What parenting has taught me

Last week, I described the three influences that tamed me over the last 50 years: 1) spiritual transformation, 2) journaling, and 3) parenting. I briefly looked at the first two, now let’s tackle how my marriage and parenting have changed me. When I first got married 47 years ago, my life revolved around me.  As much as I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I saw my relationship with Mary Kay being about how I would be more fulfilled with her as my wife. 

I know what I said in my vows about cherishing and serving her, and I meant it.  However, if I were really honest with myself at the time, it would have been about serving her SO THAT she could serve me back. And our first few years of marriage reflected this attitude on both of our parts.  Yes, we married one another to serve each other in the way God desired us to be, but deep down, I felt as I served her, my needs would be met in return. I was just beginning to learn how to love selflessly.

But then, kids came along, and I learned that marriage was only the prerequisite course for parenting.

I clearly remember the moment Jordan, our first child, popped out.  My whole life transformed in a moment.  It was like a salvation moment when I felt my whole life orientation flipped on its head.  In that moment, I sensed it was no longer about what I could get out of life.  But now, for the first time, it was about what I was going to put into others, specifically my kids, with nothing in return. 

Life would never be the same for me again. Having children has taught me how to:

  • serve without expecting anything in return
  • do what is necessary even when I am tired
  • respond to those who don’t appreciate you
  • receive little things of great value
  • share a load with my wife without a thought
  • see a need before it is obvious to others
  • recognize that little behaviors of mine have big impact on others
  • understand more is caught than taught
  • be thankful for my wife’s selfless service
  • have fun when I didn’t feel like it
  • live in the moment rather than when we get there
  • be firm without being angry
  • seriously invest my life in others rather than spend it on myself
  • appreciate every action of mine produces a reaction in others

Basically, I am learning to love others more than myself

Obviously one can learn these lessons apart from having their own children.  These attributes are not only developed in parents but are expected of everyone who learns to love and serve others. As I was learning to selflessly love my kids, I understood more clearly how to selfless love Mary Kay.

However, when I was in this unique parenting role for life with no escape, the responsibility was staggering.  Yes, this relationship changes over a lifetime, starting vertical, transitioning to horizontal, and finally inverting to vertical again.  This changing environment produces growth. I couldn’t walk away from my kids as I might a friend.  At first, I was responsible for my kid’s growth, then partnered with them for growth. Later, I encouraged them in their growth, and finally, they spoke into my growth. 

Across my lifetime, these special relationships with my kids and my wife have caused me to grow, change and learn in a way different from other relationships. 

Then comes the relationships with my grandchildren. More on that later.






One response to “What parenting has taught me”

  1. Scott Evans Avatar
    Scott Evans

    Awesome ! I feel the same Greg ! Thanks for saying it out loud brother !

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