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21 June 2020 (Pastoral Page) PARENTING OUR NEXT GEN

By Deaconess Lim Sze Wee

Nothing has tested my faith more than parenting.

Kian and I started our parenting journey guided by Proverbs 22:6 to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”.

With my children in their teens, it feels like we are getting a mid-term report on our effectiveness as trainers. I should focus on how well we have passed down our values and how they are living a life of faith but on a day to day basis, the ratings of how often they help with laundry or set the table WITHOUT BEING ASKED often overshadow everything else.

My son Ezra tells me that I am not that bad since he observed that some parents (nobody that any of us know) are just ‘bo-chap’. I am supposed to feel comforted by that.

It is not easy to share my parenting journey because I fear being judged- of people knowing that I have not prayed enough, or that I have not done something consistently enough, or hearing that one angry act that perhaps scarred my kids for life.

Of course there is also the consideration that any parenting tale I share involves other members of my household. For the record, this page has been sent for vetting by the relevant parties and I have been approved to share on two highlights of our parenting journey. Both involve our use of time.

Family rituals

When the kids were young, our lives revolved around many family rituals- bedtime stories, weekend outings, playing blind mice, family devotions etc. Over the years, as we got busier, and more distracted, many of these rituals were shed.

We are therefore thankful for the last two months of extended family time together. Over many meals, the kids reminisce about their growing up years (and divulging the things they did behind our backs). It was clear that our family rituals have created many fond shared memories.

It is never too late to start a family ritual. One ritual we revived during this circuit breaker is our family devotions. Prior to this it had been difficult even to keep this as a weekly ritual. We are into our eighth week of reading plan, having missed just one night. It is a simple act of reading a passage together but we pray that the word of God will take root and bear fruit in each of our lives over time.

The gift of time

In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes that “time is your most precious gift… You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back.”

The gift of time by brothers and sisters in Christ, to support my kids’ faith journey, has been one of the most heartfelt gifts I have received. Friends who would take them out for an outing when they were younger continue to give generously of their time to our teens now, providing them with another adults’ perspective and guidance. Older youths and young adults who have stepped into our children’s lives as their spiritual mentors give of their time to fellowship and study the Word of God together. The aunties and uncles who have carried them as babies give of their time in prayer for them.

Asst Pastor Wei-En reminded me recently what I had proclaimed as a youth leader: “I will not bring my kids to church so they will get curious and ask me where I go every Sunday!” The idea was that if they found their faith themselves, they may own it more. Thankfully I have a wiser other half who ensured that our children grew up enjoying the friendships and receiving the gift of time from a community of faith.

We do not parent alone

I do not know if those moments of self-doubt and blame in my parenting journey will cease completely. But I am glad that when parenting gets tough these days, it is thankfulness that spills over more than anything else. I have learned that I can depend on God’s sovereign help and strength. I have also experienced that we do not parent alone. The community of faith, who stood with us to dedicate our children, supports us in our parenting journey.

To the youth leaders, aunties, uncles, friends... thank you for parenting with us and for contributing to the faith journey of our next generation.

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