By Contributing Writer, Marcia Wilwerding
As the empty nest is upon us, it gives me plenty of time to reflect on how we raised our sons and daughter, particularly what we would have done differently. Are there things which were so important then that are not so important now? Is there anything we wish we had done or not done which has affected our children’s lives over the long run? Here are a few things which immediately come to mind.
More Camps and Conferences
Just having come home from a week at our favorite family camp, I am especially sad we did not attend more of them over the years. If your church is especially small and your circle of friends is even smaller, you need a place you can take your children on a regular basis where they can network with other families of like faith and practice for the purpose of perhaps meeting their future mates.
Our biggest frustration with our unmarried, adult daughter has been the scant number of eligible young men in her life who have the same or similar beliefs and culture with whom she might be wed. I know it is not impossible to eventually meet “the one,” but it sure makes it easier if you already know someone and their family.
Finding a Church and Staying There
One of the biggest regrets we have is not having been rooted in a church of like faith and practice through the whole child rearing stage of our family. This, too, is a means of networking for the purpose of marriage, but also of learning to operate within the Body of Christ.
Things we thought were so important when the children were small seem terribly Pharisaical now. I was particularly judgmental and critical of others, especially in clothing and recreational choices. It seems the fear of our children being affected by others kept us moving. Now my husband and I see that doctrinal issues should be the main reason for leaving a church, not outward appearances. I deeply regret this.
And…That’s About It
Though we were not perfect in our parenting, the other regrets are minuscule compared with these two which have affected our children the most in the long run. I suppose I could have been a little more diligent in having them pick up after themselves or in eating a better diet, but those things have not had the same impact as our lack of network friendships and stable church background.
Nevertheless, God is faithful. For instance, our oldest son met his wife through a church we attended a few years when they were teenagers. They renewed their friendship years later through the family camp we happened to attend together one year. Yet, while our oldest son met his wife through a small network of believers we already knew, our second son met his wife through commenting on the same sermon online with a young woman he had never met. God is not impaired in executing his will for our children even through decisions we now regret.
However, I would still encourage parents to seriously consider the future impact on their children when choosing or leaving a church. And, if your church family is not a place where they might nurture marriageable friendships, then consider finding a family camp or week-long conference to attend over the years where they can make those connections.
By God’s grace, may you have no regrets.
(You might enjoy my post regarding attending family camp here: http://ehomebody.blogspot.com/2008/09/things-i-have-learned-from-family-camp.html.)