The first time I met John and Mary I thought that they seemed mature beyond their years. They were in their mid twenties, yet mixed effortlessly with much older people. I soon learned they had lost five infants to premature labor and birth. They had been losing babies for more than 5 years. The heartbreak of loss and grief was etched into their faces and their lives. No wonder they seemed older than they were.
I connected with them immediately because in the past I had experienced infertility, premature labor, and the loss of one pregnancy. That was a drop in the bucket in comparison of what they knew. We became friends, but all too soon they moved out of state. I followed Mary online with social networks. One day about a year after they moved, Mary posted that she was four month pregnant. Oh dear, now the fears began. I, along with a lot of other people, began to pray for her and the baby. At 26 weeks amid a wave of crisis, their little son was born 14 weeks early. He weighed a little more than 2 pounds. It was a rough go for both Mary and the baby, but daily they began to make slow steps of progress—very slow.
Through all of this Mary posted daily online. For months I, along with others, waited to hear the daily update. Each post of Mary’s was heart felt, brutally honest, and ridiculously joyful. No mater how much bad news or how hard the days and nights were, she wrote about all of the blessings and joys. The baby slowly grew and developed and miraculously went home. She brought me to tears almost every posting. The pictures of his smile and progress make me laugh out loud. Last week, Mary shared a picture of a poop explosion beyond all expectations. Her writing made me cry—even in the midst of major poop, she found joy. Yesterday, the little guy rolled over at 6 months. His parents screamed and hollered for joy. He may be a bit delayed, but in their eyes he is a stud. The joy they know now is greater than it would have been if they had not suffered the loss of each and every lifeless child. Mary and John know gratitude–true gratitude. They are living a thankful life. There are no complaints from them. Parenting is the greatest thing ever.
As the season of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approaches, I am reminded to thank God for the privilege of being a parent. How different my life would have been without my two girls. Today they are grown, on their own, and by far my best friends. They are people that I genuinely like. We speak almost daily and it is the best part of my day. Did these relationships just happen? No. I was actively parenting in their lives until their need and dependence slowly turned from parenting to friendship. I am now in the sweet spot of parenting, but it took 25 years of hard work to get here.
Below is an adaptation I call the Parenting 10 Commandments taken from the original 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17. Those original 10 Commandments were written by God and given to Moses. These 10 Commandments have guided me in my personal life, and also in parenting. Applying them and putting them into parenting language is powerful and challenging. Parenting is the most rewarding yet difficult job in the world. How are you doing at following the Parenting 10 Commandments?
The Parenting 10 Commandments
1. You shall teach your kids to know God.
2. You shall not make idols to worship, give power to, or place your faith in more than God—not things of the ocean (i.e.; dolphin or whale images, etc.), not things of the earth (i.e.; rocks, metals, gems, etc.), and not things in the heavens (i.e.; angels, etc.).
3. You shall reject and punish any misuse of the name of “God” or “Jesus” that your kids say, other than in prayer or a respectful manner.
4. You shall rest one day a week—worshiping God, spending time with family, and not working.
5. You shall introduce and help your children know and respect their grandparents and extended family—their roots.
6. You shall teach your children of the sanctity of life—protecting and caring for all forms of life.
7. You shall model pure sexual morals within marriage and outside of marriage.
8. You shall hold your kids accountable for any form of stealing in the family/home, cheating in school, or shop lifting.
9. You shall control your tongue and model an example of no lying or gossiping.
10. You shall control the materialistic desires of yourself and your kids.
These are not just guidelines or suggestions, but rather they are commandments. God promises to bless and treasure our family and our nation if we follow these commandments. Maybe it’s time to give these a try.
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