As I thought about having kids, I eagerly anticipated being an involved parent. After all, it was a natural transition from my lifelong overachievement as a Japanese American child into adulthood then parenthood. But seriously, I could not wait to be involved in their school, sports, church and more. Need a room parent? Sign me up! Any parents wanting to coach ________? Yep, that’s me! Do you have a heart to lead kids in Bible Study? You betcha! It has never been about the accolades or resume building at this stage, just the opportunity to be involved in my child’s world.
But just as COVID-19 and at-home life has eliminated so many opportunities for my kids to be involved live and in-person, so too has it eliminated my opportunities to be involved in their world’s live and in-person. Hence, why these past few months of loss have equally hit me just as it has them in the area of loss and grieving. Of course, entirely differently but also somewhat similarly. But then like a flash of lightning, months into this, it’s hit me. My involvement has been and is good. However, what if there is something even better?
I have a new passion, in this season and beyond, to move into the role of an invested parent. Here are the realizations that have led me to this conclusion:
- Prior to distance learning I frankly had minimal to no idea what my child was learning at school. I’d do the homework with them and ask the perennial “what did you learn today?” at pick-up. But the homework was less than telling as to what they did during the school day. And the responses were often “I can’t remember” or general subjects like “We did math.” Distance learning basically forced me to dive right in and invest more deeply into their day-to-day learnings. For that, I am grateful.
- And while the academia of education is still vital, the greater investment in my kids’ lives is in their whole-person education. Rote memorization and regurgitation of facts is not the end goal. And please hear my heart, that is NOT what I am reducing school education to. But in spending the intentional time together as a family, enjoying the blessings and working through the tough stuff, I have seen the beauty of whole-person development. Their characters are being refined. Levels of responsibility have shifted. Life lessons have become more impactful and long-lasting. All this to say, I am investing in each of the masterpieces that God has given me not just teaching them school subjects.
- With this shift in mindset, it has reprioritized what I expect and desire. I grew up with the “straight A’s” and “perfect attendance” mindset as markers of success. These are still aspirational but not the end-all-be-all. If I have valedictorians but they don’t know, love and follow Jesus, then what have I gained? If my kids go to Harvard, yet do not prioritize church connection and shepherd leadership, is it all worth it? Full-ride athletic scholarships would sure be helpful, but not at the expense of knowing and growing in the body of Christ. How am I investing in their spiritual connections and commitment now so that I will have interdependent lifelong followers of Jesus?
My prayer is that you would undergo your own refinement and fine tuning in your parenting perspective. I know God had to do a mighty even lifelong reworking in my brain. Maybe you’re just trying to survive this distance learning season, that is ok. Take one day at a time. Maybe you’re carrying heavy burdens to “do it all” and “be it all”. Release those to the Lord. The most important thing we can do in this ongoing, heavy season of at-home life is to invest in the eternity of our kids. Would you join me in this eternal parenting investment?