{Continued from this post}

Her remark was not mean-spirited, it was no verbal attack.  Understanding those things didn’t lessen the sting of its truth.

We’ve given our children the latitude to say anything to us as long as they do so respectfully.  It’s a pleasure to watch the cogs turning behind their eyes as they think through the logic to argue their point (especially if they disagree with us).  It’s a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.

No, my daughter’s words were not offensive, they didn’t hurt my feelings, but they did rattled me.  I hear the clock’s deafening tick as its hands spin minutes into days–days consumed at irreplaceable cost.  There’s this 18-year window of opportunity to train and influence and give shape to their lives, to affect who they’ll eventually become, and it matters to me that we get it more "right" than "wrong".

Before we had children, I remember one of our dear friends sharing a testimony about her faith.  This friend had a genetic anomaly that affected the bone structure of her face; it was the kind of thing young children might cruelly make fun of, or at a minimum, cause them to stare.  My friend lauded the refuge of her home; her parents had created a safe haven where she was loved and accepted and felt beautiful.

I knew then, that was the kind of home I wanted to build for our family.  Recalling the adage "Children as toddlers step on your toes; as teens, they step on your heart", I knew they’d eventually be under external assault and influence, and I wanted their foundation to be secure.  Parenting the decade between 10 and 20 requires wisdom and intent…and patience and persistence and pragmatism and prayer and, oh, so much more!   

Because, like it or not, families never crumble in a day.

I don’t live in defeat, but as a mother–and wife and friend and believer–I know I’ve failed at times.   

Failure is a master teacher.  Although both are worthy, the value of lessons learned from mistakes is richer, more complete, than anything learned in success.  The former comes at cost we’d rather avoid…to pride, self-sufficiency, reputation.  Ghandi said it well when he said, "My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at his feet."

I loved the movie "The Untouchables".  There’s an exchange between Malone (Sean Connery) and Elliott Ness (Kevin Costner) that reminds me of raising kids.  Malone is pressing Ness, determining how far he’s willing to go to capture and convict Capone.  Malone says, "…What are you prepared to do?" and Ness responds, "Anything within the law."  Malone continues, "And *then* what are you prepared to do?" reminding Ness that the other side is not going to give up until someone is dead.  Ness admits he just wants to get Capone, but doesn’t know how to go about it…and Malone, very colorfully, tells him to be creative, to be prepared to do whatever it takes.

Which is exactly what my daughter’s comment challenged me to do as a parent. 

What am I prepared to do to safeguard our family?  If a family day at the park feels "forced" or contrived, what can we do to cultivate a more natural feel?  How do we engage our children in meaningful relationship with us while allowing them the freedom to detach as they move from a position of parental dependence to healthy independence? 

I know a strong faith doesn’t assure immunity from the possibility of crumbling, but our
relationship with Christ does give us a solid foundation. It gives us direction, and better yet, hope.

Families never crumble in a day.

And s l o w l y it dawned on me this is good news!  Because every day is another
opportunity to build on that foundation.  Every day is another opportunity to grow, to learn, to make a difference.  Yes, we will still fail. 

But even out of the ashes of failure, a phoenix can rise…redemptive beauty 🙂.

Families don’t crumble in a day…and for that…I am thankful.

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