18 Parenting Thoughts on Cammi 18th Birthday

Often, I hit the blogosphere when a significant day happens for the family. Today is my daughter’s 18th birthday. I’m trying to let that sink in.  Cammi is 18….I have an 18-year-old.

*pause for a moment of silence for this parent.

Okay. I’m back. [deep breath]

As usual, theses moments cause you to reflect upon how well you’ve done pointing this child in the right direction. But isn’t that what parenting is all about? Parenting is less about controlling your child’s world and more about setting them up to be great adults in this world.

I can’t say we are perfect parents, but Anne and I have done our best. Don’t get me wrong, our parenting isn’t done in the least bit. But there is a different approach we have with our “adult child” than we do with our 15 year old (Ethan).

This week has been all about reflection. The very human side is to say, “what should I have done better.” And if you follow my blog, you know that I have zero issue speaking from my massive list of faults and mistakes. But I felt a bit of a “heart check” in this blog. So I thought I’d share some lessons that have come from “wins” as a parent. It’s not about bragging or being prideful but hoping to encourage some young parents in their approach to their kids growing up.

So I’d thought I’d give you 18 lessons that came from “wins” in parenting.

  1. Jesus is first.
    • We draw from what we understand in Christ. It’s been 18 years of not just pointing her but doing our best to model this. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we fail. But our heart is to live with Jesus in the center of our lives.
  2. Daddy-daughter dates are mandatory. 
    • Cammi has been using chopsticks for almost 18 years. Why? We started something when she was barely old enough to hold chopsticks. To every dad: If you date your daughter before she’s old enough to date, she’ll be better prepared for dating. 
  3. We find the “funny.”
    • I understand that life can be serious, but life is too short not to laugh and enjoy yourself. It takes zero effort to be critical; it takes a determined heart to work past the negative and bring out the joyful.
  4. The pain of failure can be very good.
    • It’s not that I want my kids to fail, but I didn’t protect them from failure. They needed to experience it and the pain from it. My job: Be there to help them navigate through it. Really, isn’t that what the Lord does with us?
  5. Talk about everything. 
    • If the only time you talk to your kids is when they are in trouble or when you want information, they’ll pick up that you are only interested in them when it suits you. Ask about their day. Ask about their interests.
  6. Different approaches with different kids.
    • We learned to raise our kids with different approaches because, well, they’re different. It’s not about loving one more than the other. It’s about strategy to effectively point them toward Jesus and maturity.
  7. Notifications on everything.
    • Whatever social media my kids are on, I’m on. And if they post, I get notifications. It’s not about control but accountability.
  8. Other authorities are necessary.
    • I am my kids parent and pastor so they need other authorities to speak into them. AND those authorities need me to back off and let them be that voice in my kid’s life.
  9. They SEE and HEAR a united front.
    • We don’t allow the kids to divide us. They know they cannot pin one of us against the other. They don’t hear us talk bad about the other. We are one.
  10. Discipline is from, and followed with, a heart of love.
    • Ask Cammi, if she’s been disciplined, a short time after I’ve gone into her room to talk, hug, and pray. And my prayer has been the same for 18 years, “Lord, help Cammi be a better little girl, help daddy be a better daddy. We both need help. We need You.”
  11. Be at their “stuff.” 
    • If it’s a sports team, dance, art competition, band, etc. be at it all. I don’t care if it isn’t “your cup of tea.” Your presence matters.
  12. My kids are capable of mistakes. 
    • I’m definitely not the parent who says, “My kid will never do that.” Yet my kids are not guilty till proven guilty. We just know that we need to get the truth and respond in an appropriate way.
  13. Get their input. 
    • We call “family meetings” and get their input on things about the family. They don’t have a vote per sé, but they do have a voice.
  14. Allow them to see mistakes and responses. 
    • One of my favorite memories of my dad was him apologizing to me for a mistake he made. And that’s a memory I want my kids to have of me.
  15. Look to serve. 
    •  When we see someone in need, we look to serve first instead of deferring it to someone else to help. Nobody may every know what was done, but that doesn’t matter. We do things for the audience of One.
  16. Conviction > guilt. 
    • Guilt is manipulation. And because God doesn’t work that way, we don’t. It’s all about working in the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  17. “Let them fight.” 
    • Might be my favorite line from “Godzilla.” But we’ve learned to let our kids work out their own stuff up to a certain degree. Obviously, we don’t want them hitting each other, but we also want them to learn how to handle conflict.
  18. Love is relentless.
    • Regardless of their decisions or directions, they know that we’ll love them with the same level of relentless of that Christ has shown us.

Love all of you parents out there. I’m cheering for you!!!

I love you Cammi. You will never know how much our daddy-daughter dates have meant to me. I’ll always have a set of chopsticks at home for you with an ear ready to listen. As I watch you serve others, I fight back tears in wonderment at how God has grown you. I’m glad I had a hand in it, but in reality, it’s because you’ve opened up your heart to Jesus.  You are everything I prayed for and so much more. I love you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

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