Too often we dwell on the hard things in life – the difficult circumstance and bad memories.
I suppose it’s human nature to focus on the negative. But today I’m going to do something a bit different.
Let me encourage you to have hope. If you are a parent who has suffered discouragement, disappointment or a loss of the dream, then this one’s for you.
I’m here as proof that things will get better.
We have 15 children. Two by birth and 13 through adoption. I’d be lying if I said the journey has been easy. We had major struggles and have endured a lot of pain. But there also were great moments – watching our kids learn, grow, overcome and learn to enjoy life has been amazing.
For a long time I despaired of ever having my dream of a close loving family of 17 – with so much trauma and pain in my kids’ pasts, that mountain seems too high to climb most days. But I still hope. Every morning I awaken and every night I go to bed I wish our family was all together, enjoying being with each other.
Here are a few things you need to know.
- Never judge a family, a parent or child, based on one specific period of time – a snapshot. You cannot know the value of a person unless you know their heart and even that sometimes is hard to read. Too often people judged our kids during the teen years as being unsalvageable. At times I wondered myself because I had no one to tell me differently.
- Never lose hope. If your children chose a different path, don’t despair. Many of my children left our home and walked a path different from what we laid out for them. But one by one we are seeing them come back to us and forge a new relationship – an adult to adult relationship that is sweet and blessed.
- Let them go but don’t let them go. If your children walk away to live a life contrary to your belief system, you need to let them go. I don’t mean cut them off or ignore their calls or shun them. I do mean let them go and tell them, “If you decide to walk a different road, I won’t come with you, but I will be right here waiting for you to come back – any time day or night.” Always leave the light on. Always be looking out the window, watching for them to come home. Pray God will work in their lives and keep them safe.
- When they come back, lose the past. Remember it, learn from it, but don’t cling to it. Let it go. None of it matters any more. They were kids. Yes, they may have made bad choices, but they have grown and changed and need to know you still want them, still love them.
- Realize that the new relationship with your kids can be amazing. You no longer are responsible for their decisions, you don’t need to take care of them any more and you can sit back and just enjoy them (and your grandkids!). No judging. No advice giving. No pushing and prodding. Just let them be. Enjoy them as they are and let the rest go. Let them know they are accepted as they are and that they do not answer to you any more. Give them room to grow and freedom to live their lives without worrying about being criticized. You need to be “safe” in their eyes.
To bring it home…
In our family we have 7 daughters, 8 sons, 5 sons-in law, 4 moms, 2 Marines, 2 in the Navy, 13 beautiful grandkids, a programmer, a pastor, 3 nannies, 2 graphic designers, 2 teachers, a pilot, 3 company managers, 1 dispatcher, a bookkeeper, 1 limo driver, 3 CEOs, an animator, 6 college graduates, a CNA, 2 photographers, and some with other cool titles I can’t think of right now.
God has blessed our family and is not finished with us yet.
We have an amazing family and one day they all will know and appreciate that – ONE DAY.
Until then, I’ll keep the light on.