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Parenting is hard work.

Whether you are a first time parent or a seasoned veteran (if there is such a thing), parenting is difficult. Every season of life presents new challenges. When children are young, sometimes just making it through a day can seem challenging. Feeding, changing diapers, trying to get them to stop crying, and other stressors while trying to also get any work done can seem like an unending circus. As children age, the challenges change. No longer is it trying to get our children to stop crying, now it’s trying to help them navigate their changing emotions, struggles with friends, and their growing independence. Parenting is a great blessing, but it’s also a struggle.

As parents, we have dreams for our children. We want them to succeed in life. We believe they can do anything, and we want to help them achieve their heart’s desire. Because of our love for our children, and our desire to help them achieve their goals in life, we often go out of our way to give them what they need. We spend hours in the car driving them to and from music and sports practices. We do without, refusing to spend money on ourselves so that we can spend money on the things they need. We put our own dreams and desires on hold in order to focus on their dreams and desires. Perhaps at times we go too far, causing major stress in our own lives, but it’s in an effort to help our children achieve their dreams. We want to give our children what they need to succeed.

The question becomes, what do they need to succeed? Or perhaps more accurately stated, what do our children need from us as parents, in order for them to succeed? Do our children need us to stand up to a teacher or coach who is treating them unfairly, or do our children need us to counsel them on how to succeed even in the midst of obstacles? Do our children need us to find ways to pay for private lessons to help them excel or do our children need us to help them learn how to live within one’s means? These are difficult choices; ones that don’t come easily.

But as parents, we are willing to make difficult choices for our children. When our children are young, we take them to get vaccines and flu shots, even when our children argue about them, because we know it’s what’s best for them. When our children want to quit going to school, or don’t do their homework, we encourage and at times force them to do their work because we know the value of education. We are willing to make the hard choices when we know it’s what’s right.

Which brings up a very important question, ultimately, what do our children need most? This could be answered in many different ways, but perhaps the answer is summed up best by Moses in Deuteronomy 6. “Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord alone. You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) That’s the message and truth our children need most. Our children need to know that the Lord our God is alone above every other false god, idol, priority, or dream. The Lord is ruler of all, and needs to be the one we worship most. Nothing, no idol or dream, is as important as the Lord our God. And we should love the Lord with all that we have, every ounce of our being.

We as parents can, and will, fail in many ways. We will not always do everything right for our children. We will at times punish too strictly, or be too lenient. We will look back over our years of parenting and pick moments where we know we got it wrong. However, if we can succeed in passing on faith, in teaching our children to love the Lord our God with everything that they are, then we will be successful as parents.

In order to accomplish this task, we will have to make difficult choices for our children. We may, at times, have to force them to participate in activities they don’t desire. They may not want to go to Sunday church services or participate in youth group activities, but we may need to encourage them to do so because they need the positive relationships. They may not want to participate in devotional conversations around the dinner table, but they may need to because of the importance of families talking about faith. These are hard choices, but if it’s what they need, we have to provide it for them.

We may also need to practice these disciplines in our own lives. Our children will never want to attend Bible class or read their Bible if they never see us, their parents, going to Bible classes or reading our Bibles. Our children won’t make faith a priority if we as parents aren’t making faith a priority. We can not lead our children to a place we are not. It starts with our own faith. It starts with making hard choices for our family about what is most important.

I want my children to succeed. I want them to achieve all of their dreams. Above all, however, I want them to love the Lord God with all their heart. That’s the highest priority. That’s my most important task as a parent. I can fail at every other aspect of parenting, but if I can pass on faith, then it’s still success.