Musings from a Veteran Parent

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
Jim Sutton

There was a general belief back when my wife and I were relatively new parents that raising girls was easier than boys. If you search the internet for why this might have been, various reasons are given and the responses are mixed. Some articulate that girls are more emotional, obstinate and complicated and thus more difficult to raise. Some say that boys are more boisterous, smelly and noisy and thus more difficult to raise. About a third of parents based on surveys reveal they consider both genders are equally difficult (or easy!) to raise to adulthood.

We certainly experienced most of the polar aspects of raising children with the four God gave us to steward into adults. Whether one was "harder" to raise than the other gender depends on how "harder" is defined, however. And that subjective assessment is bound to differ between two parents due to the nature of the relationships between a Mom and her children and a Dad and his children. So I will talk to my perspective as a Dad in the hopes that younger Dads will be better informed and equipped than I was for parenting. Moms, you are welcome to listen in, but I'm sure your thoughts would add greatly to my ramblings!

My wife and I have noticed that most people raise their kids remarkably similar to the way they were raised, once we get to know the couple and their upbringing. Many new parents swear they will raise their brood differently, especially in cases where their upbringing was not ideal. But this becomes difficult or next to impossible when the knowledge to effect parenting changes is lacking. Couple that with the stress that young children can place on a marriage for introspective time, and the outcome becomes predictable. Due to these two factors alone most parents largely default to the way their parents raised them.

If children came with instruction manuals, at least the more engineer/scientific/logically minded among us would be expected to have better outcomes in raising their brood. But alas, children start as people in the rough, and parents have the unique task of introducing them through life experiences to what it means to be an adult in a world full of people. Hopefully that introduction is proceeded with tailored mentoring to encourage a thirst for knowledge, truth, and how love invigorates and provides meaning to life. Most parents understand the unique role they have to encourage their children to dream and follow those dreams, but the most fundamental gift is to help them remember that there is a God that loves them, and will hold them accountable for their choices. Some may couch this in passing on their "values", but if in the parent's view God exists in the Biblical sense, the value of Micah 6:8 is the most important value that can be imparted for their child's place in this world and the hereafter:

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God"

Whether those values are adopted or not depends on many factors, the most significant one being the will and choices that the child will make as they enter into adulthood. Certainly a child's imperfect upbringing will influence those choices, but ultimately each person is responsible for their actions and choices regardless of whether one adopts a belief that there is a God or whether one believes there is not.

For the young parent that may be fearful of this outcome with their children, take courage! There are more resources today to learn about good parenting techniques, break out of blemished parenting styles and minimize the corresponding effects on the children that bless your home. And just one final thought that has been mined from the child raising years: relationships and time should always be your first gift to your children through their childhood. Those treasures you now have will not always be an option as they leave the nest and are molded by the beliefs they ultimately adopt and the choices they make.