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Parenting Teenagers and Beyond

It was January 1956. We had just brought a new puppy home from the…no, no, no. I’m wrong. It wasn’t a puppy this time. It was something different. It was a baby boy that we brought home from the hospital in Ardmore, Oklahoma—through eight inches of snow and with great trepidation. A baby boy who could do one thing exceptionally well—open his mouth and scream. Of course, I couldn’t blame him. Neither Bill nor I had ever even held a baby, much less been responsible for getting bubbles in the neck of the bottle while feeding him (as if you could see the bubbles at two o’clock in the morning!), keeping his bottom nicely oiled, and being sure he was dry and warm in the middle of the night without waking him up—should we be so fortunate a to discover that he was asleep. So we had one insecure little person on our hands who had only one way of declaring his insecurity: cry loud and long.

How well I remember that early morning about four weeks after our tiny four-room house had been designated as belonging to this small creature. It was around three o’clock. Bill and I had fixed sausage and scrambled eggs for breakfast. We were up and were going to be up—why not eat? I looked at Bill with egg on my face and bloodshot eyes. He looked back at me with the same malady and said, "Honey, I think we have made the greatest mistake of our lives." What horrible thing had we done? We had become parents.

That first tiny being that comes home with you (after you’ve waddled around those last four or five months of pregnancy and forgotten how to tie your shoes) brings about one of the most radical changes that will ever be deliberately carried across the threshold of your front door. And the second or third one isn’t much better. I remember a friend saying to me as I was great with our third child, "Oh, Anabel. Don’t’ worry about it. It will be just one more little face to wash." That was a lie. There was one more little face, one more little mouth, one more little bottom, one more formula to fix, one more diaper pail, and lots of other "one mores."

Bill and I made a monumental decision when our first son came along: We would be committed to being the best parents we could possibly be. We learned the hard way how foolish our monumental decision was—in our own strength; so through the years we gave each child back to the Lord for Him to teach and care for and protect—through our commitment to them. Bill left a very prestigious position (it took him away from home too much) and prepared for another field. I quit working so I could be a "stay-at-home" mom. Sure, my dresses were outdated, Bill’s collars were frayed, our house was small, our car a vintage model named Jethro, and our menu simple, but I wouldn’t change anything.

Our sons brought home fun and laughter, Matchbox cars and G.I. Joe into our home. They also brought in major medical expenses, having decided among themselves that the weekend would be the best time to fall out of the tree house or puncture an eye or break an arm. (Do you know how much the emergency room costs on the weekend?). They taught us how to read Bible stories with great dramatic effect; how to listen to childish hurts without bursting into laughter; how to interpret unknown hieroglyphics from art class; and how to smile through tears. The love grew as they grew from childhood, to boyhood, to manhood, each one unique.

After four sons and forty years, I look back on those years of parenting and say with deep sincerity, "It was worth it all." Perfect parents? Hardly. Perfect kids? No way. But the love that permeated our home and the knowledge of our incredible God that has come into our lives through these precious God-given gifts is beyond comparison. Children. How special! How wonderful! What a blessing!

Being a mother or a dad is one of the highest callings from God. Why? Because God entrusts into our care one of His children (Isaiah 45:11) to mold and shape, to teach and train to love unconditionally. The statement has been made, "We as a culture must end the cycle of procreation without committing to parenting." What does that mean? It means you say, "I pledge myself, my time, all that I have and all that I do—I am committed—to being a parent to this child that I am responsible for bringing into this world."

There’s one very important thing that you much remember, and this is regardless of whether you are a one-parent family or a two-parent family: You cannot be the parent that your child needs you to be. But then, God never expected you to be. He will do this for you. This must be your mindset. This must be the power behind every act, the wisdom behind every decision: I can’t do it! Christ, You must do it for me!

The main ingredient for parenting is a choice made by the two people who join themselves together in physical union to bring this child into the world. That ingredient? A mom and a dad who are committed to being godly parents. God does not hold you responsible for the decisions your adult children make, but He does hold you responsible to be godly parents. And you say, "I can’t do that, Anabel." It’s good that you realize this, and I’m with you. I agree. But He has the answer. "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5). He is saying, "I will do it all for you."

I remember that snowy day when Pres came into our world, the Sunday morning that Mace made his dramatic entrance, the 1:00 A.M. conversations with the nurse when Will lingered in the darkness of the womb for a while and the mad dash to the hospital when Wade decided to make his abrupt appearance. How thankful I am that God allowed me to be their mom—a parent.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.