Our oldest son graduated from UCLA for his bachelor’s degree a few years ago. Presently married, he is now an officer with the US military living in another far away state. Our second child, finished a Licensed Vocational Nursing degree and is now working as a nurse in another state far away from us. She, too, is married and now with a baby daughter. Our third child is taking his graduate studies and is now also married. The last child has now moved to his University campus dorm as freshman. In short, unexpectedly, my wife and I found ourselves alone at home.
Just like any parents, my wife and I are experiencing the fact that it is so difficult to let go. Our “babies” have left us! It was only like yesterday when we were all together. So much great memories of not long ago come to mind.
I remember the time when I used to take my kids to the rice fields back in the Philippines, jumping up and down on the haystack. I remember their laughs and giggles doing that. I remember when I used to carry them on my shoulder running around the house. I remember when I took my firstborn with me and climbed the highest mountain in the Philippines (Mt. Apo) in the island of Mindanao. It was a two-day climb. Although he was only ten, yet he reached the top with other young children one hour ahead of us, older guys. I remember my daughter playing dress up with some friends. She and her friends transformed themselves into Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Oh yes, I remember when she was just a toddler, she poured soup in her dress pocket! She was so full of life and passion. I remember my second son when he was only two years old and reciting the Alphabet from Z to A after we taught him A-Z. I remember at church, members where having this game called, “Make Abel smile.” Because at that time, it was so tough to make him smile! Of course, today, he has one of the most beautiful smiles. I remember carrying our youngest at the back of my neck when we were hiking some of the San Gabriel mountain trails!
And now they are mature, dependable and so independent. We have the occasional phone calls. “Hello!” “Hi!” “How is everything?” To be honest, letting go is difficult especially when you have such a close family relationship. Good thing, the youngest, still comes home on weekend to join us. Yet, we know it won’t be long he, too, will be somewhere and being independent.
Through all those years, my children have been a part of our lives. They have been with us doing ministry. They serve with the worship team, summer camps, vacation bible schools and missions trip all over the world. My wife and I are very proud of them all. Of course, we give God all the glory. Friends with little children often ask us, “What do you teach your kids?” and “how do you teach them?”
As I look back, I think there are so many important values we share but one that I feel very important is commitment. I often asked myself, “What do we want them to be committed to?” “How do we teach commitment?”
I believe that the best way to teach commitment to our children is to show them our own commitment. While we are so far away from perfect, here are a few things we feel are important.
• Commit ourselves to knowing and loving God .
• Commit ourselves to loving and serving other people. This includes the love commitment my wife and I have for each other.
• Commit ourselves to spiritual growth through bible study, prayer, attending church, etc.
• Commit ourselves to sharing the good news.
Jesus knew He wouldn’t be with the disciples in the flesh forever. He knew at the Last Supper that He would be hanging on a cross within a few hours. This is what He prayed: “Now I am departing the world; I am leaving them behind and coming to You. Holy Father, keep them and care for them” (John 17:11).
Lesson: We are not going to be with our children forever. Parenting is a season. It isn’t going to last forever, but it’s never too late to start leading. You may be a grandparent now, but you can still be a spiritual leader to those around you. You can echo Jesus’ prayer, saying, “Father, before I depart the world, help me to impart godly truths to my children and grandchildren. Before they go on their own, guide me to be a good steward of those you put in my care. We give them back to you, knowing you have always and will always care for them.”