I remember the first days when we brought our older daughter home from the hospital. We had no idea what to do with her. When do we feed her? How do we make her stop crying? How much do babies really need to sleep? We were new parents who had read all the books but discovered that the reality was very different than the printed page.
Eventually, though, we figured it out. We learned to decipher what our child needed and were able to provide it for her. I look back on those days and remember how hard they were — and how confusing.
As we sit on the cusp of entering the teen years with our girls, I often feel the same sense of uncertainty that I felt in that first year. What do they need? How do I provide for those needs? And what do I do when they refuse the help I know they need?
I truly think that these years are more difficult than that first one. At least when my daughters were babies, they stayed where I put them, they went where I took them, and they wore what I put on them. Now, my girls have minds and opinions of their own. They know what they want to do — even if that thing may not be the best for them.
I’m wallowing in a sea of uncertainty these days, simply trying to find the balance between keeping my girls safe from physical and emotional harm and letting them learn some tough lessons on their own. I’m learning when to step in and when to step back. I’m learning to cry for them in private, to pray for them always and to encourage and teach when things go wrong. I’m also learning to applaud their successes — even if they don’t do things the way I would have done them, and even if their measure of success is different from my own.
As I drift in this new parenting ocean, riding the waves of uncertainty, I’m learning that not being sure of the path ahead means I have to rely more on God. When my girls were little, it was easier to think that I had it all under control. Now, I know that I control very little. I never know whether there will be smiles or tears when my girls walk through the door. I can’t control every influence in their lives, so I have to rely on God to protect them and to help them make wise choices. I have to rely on Him to help me make wise choices in dealing with them.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” In these pre-teen and the coming teen years, this has to be my mantra. Because on my own, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to best parent my girls. I don’t know how to best deal with the obstacles they face and the questions they have. But God does.
When I wallow in a sea of uncertainty, God is a rock in that sea. He’s a safe harbor, a refuge where I can tie up my ship and replenish my soul. He’s a fountain of wisdom that I can tap into. Because while I may be uncertain about how to parent my girls and what direction to take, God is not.