Growing up in the north, fall was certainly a season to behold. Not that all seasons don't hold their own unique beauty, but I think fall shows off God's handiwork the most. In Kentucky, the hills were blanketed with colors of red, gold, orange, and purple as if to say, "Look at my brilliance! Take note of my Creator!" The air gets a bit cooler. The days of shorts and tank tops are replaced with sweatshirts and jeans. Soccer and football were the sports of the day. Pumpkin breads, apple crisp, and chili were some of the fall food favorites. One word comes to my mind with the coming of this season---change! The beginning of school starts the change from one grade to the next. Temperature change requires a warmer wardrobe. Parenting is similar to the changing of seasons. Each "season" of parenting comes with its own uniqueness.
Spring: The Beginning of New Life
Spring represents children from birth to school age.
Psalm 127:3 reminds us that children are a gift. As I reflect on each of my own sweet babies, I was always overwhelmed with the love God had given me for that child. I was indeed thankful to God that He had entrusted me with such a precious gift. However, that sweet little bundle of joy changes your entire family dynamic whether it is child #1 or child #4. It doesn't take long before you discover that your little one does indeed have a sin nature. This season of parenting can be physically demanding and overwhelming. It is so important to "stick with it" because the end result is well worth the time spent. Proverbs 22:6 tell us, "Train up a child in the way he should go..." The ESV study expounds on this by saying parents are encouraged to train their children in the way of kinds of conduct that will please the Lord. This training includes love and instruction as well as discipline. Just as spring brings new growth it is also filled with the weeds that are trying to choke out that life. This "season of parenting" is being busy like the gardener who gently pulls away the weeds encouraging that growth of a strong, healthy plant.
Summer is that most anticipated season for most people. Vacations are usually a highlight of this season full of wonderful family memories. The days are sunny and hot with a flurry of activities that come to an end all too soon and leave us asking for more. This season of parenting is certainly like that. These are the days of chauffeuring, projects, homework, field trips, school events, sports, piano lessons---the list could go on and on!!!!! In the midst of this hectic pace, take the time to enjoy your children. Sometimes the business becomes mundane and our parenting becomes robotic as we transport our child from one activity to the next. My advice during this season so to seize the day!! Take advantage of every opportunity to pour into the life of your child whether it is in a car traveling from one spot to the next or by their bedside tucking them in after a long and busy day. Just as summer vacations are intentional, purposeful, and well-planned so should our parenting during this season.
Fall: College to Young Adult
Fall is that season of vibrant, visible change. Just as the leaves on the tree transform, this is the season of parenting when we watch our child transform from teenager to adult. At this point in the parenting spectrum, you become more of an advisor and supporter and less of a director. I will be honest---this can be difficult. So often we want to protect our children from all possible pitfalls, but that is where growth often occurs. It can be fearful to watch your child make life choices that can be potentially harmful. Those are the times to share your wisdom and experience, but ultimately the choice is up to them. My prayer life continues to grow during this season. However, it can be an exciting time as well, when you watch your young adult adopt those Biblical truths they have been taught all those years and make them their own.
Winter: Adult Children
Truthfully, I have just begun this season, but as with all seasons, I know it will be full of change. This is the season where the torch has been passed. Our input into our children's lives, for the most part, has ended, and we get to become on-lookers to see how God will use and direct them. Our children's spouses will enter the picture and (hopefully!!) grandchildren as well, to be loved and snuggled - and then it starts again.
Just as the seasons come and go and bring plenty of change, so do the seasons of parenting. It is a never ending cycle but a very worthy calling. Be willing to share and encourage others with triumphs and trials you have experienced over the various periods of your life. Welcome and embrace each “season” to the fullest!!!
Missy Green is a K4 teacher at Lakeland Christian School. You can reach her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Susie B at FreeDigitalPhotos.net