Years ago, I overheard one of the saddest parenting conversations. A mother was telling her friend how she had instructed her daughter to stop hanging on to her, as the daughter was in middle school now and “too big” for such public displays of affection. Yes, you read that correctly. The mother told her daughter to stop hanging on to her because the daughter was too “grown-up” for such childish behavior.
Did you know that when your children take a big leap in growth, it is natural for them to crave a little regression to a previous stage? You will sometimes hear adults describe teens as, “One minute he’s making adult decisions and the next he is acting like a two year old.”
One of my favorite things I did when my daughter was young, was to start a mother-daughter book club. We met once a week during the summer, discussing the chosen book for the week. Every meeting featured crafts, games, refreshments or a field trip. The club included many of the girls in her school class and their moms.
Now I wish I had made it at least partially, if not entirely, a Bible book club. We tend to forget that the Bible is actually sixty-six separate books put together in one volume. Some books like Ruth and Esther are basically one long true story, while other books have multiple true stories within them. There is even poetry and wisdom literature.
Every congregation should have a “Miss” Bettye. If they gave out awards for uber-grandma’s, she would win. Miss Bettye loves the Lord and she will praise Him no matter the circumstances. In fact, she has been fighting cancer for several years now and I have never heard her do anything but praise the Lord.
Miss Bettye also loves everyone unconditionally. You may disappoint her, but you always see forgiveness in her eyes. You also know that she truly believes you can change for the better no matter what you have done.
The other day I had the chance to have a chat with her. We had just finished watching ten of her eleven great-grandchildren in our church’s children’s program. (Her eleventh was watching in the audience.) I know a number of people who have raised all of their children to be faithful Christians. Miss Bettye is one of the few people I have met who has all faithful children and grandchildren and is seeing her great-grandchildren raised in the same church.
We just returned from a two week vacation. The first week my daughter and I stayed with a friend of mine from college. We had lots of fun doing “girlie” things and exploring an area of the country that was new to us. The second week my husband joined us for a family vacation. My daughter made a very interesting comment when my husband arrived at the house a few minutes past her bedtime. She wanted to stay up late and spend a few minutes with “both of you”.
Her comment reminded me of a story one of my friends told of her daughter when she was a toddler. My friend and her husband had been away for a couple of weeks on business. When they returned, their youngest daughter did not want to have much to do with them. After a few days she was her normal affectionate self. It finally dawned on my friend that her daughter was “angry” at her parents for being gone.
Strange as it may seem, I believe part of the ability to dedicate your child to God springs from having a close relationship with her. The scriptures don’t tell us much about the short time Samuel lived with Hannah at home. I imagine Hannah treasured the time with Samuel and showered him with her love. I often wonder about the conversations they must have had each year when she visited him. What did she say to him about her love for him? What wisdom did she try to leave with him in those few days each year?
We are blessed with having our children live in our homes for several years. If you have been a parent for more than a few weeks, you already have a sense of how quickly the time with your child passes. As your child grows older, you feel a greater urgency to teach him everything you want him to know before he goes into the world. Unfortunately, this is also often the period of time when your child may want to shy away from what he considers a “mushy” conversation.