936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
The driveway emptied and I returned to the quiet of the house. Play dough and cookie cutters laid on the kitchen counter. Board games waited to find their way back to the playroom shelf. Dishes with remnants of their favorite breakfast, biscuits and gravy, sat ready to be rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher. Random socks found in the living room added to the evidence that they were really here. I looked around not wanting to change a thing as I basked in the sweet memories of the last few days.
Tears had stung my eyes with our good-bye hug. Where did the time go? Preparing for the days of our visit to pass quickly didn’t prevent the sadness I felt when they departed. Memories will have to carry me through until the next time we’re together with my daughter and her family. Hundreds of miles separate us since their move across the country, and months between visits can feel like an eternity.
The memories are sweet, but far from perfect. In my mind’s eye I see their cherub faces and can still hear their laughter. Warmth floods my soul and I can almost feel my grandchildren nestled next to me. But to be honest, every moment wasn’t filled with sweetness. Meltdowns over unmet expectations and sibling rivalry reared its ugly head a time or two.
I strip the beds and load the washer. As it spins, my mind spun with the events of the past few days. I think of all the “too’s”…consuming too much sugar, getting too little sleep and trying to do too much in too little time can leave me with too many regrets. How could I have forgotten to pray with them before they walked out the door?
I begin to focus on the fun instead. Munching popcorn and watching Peter Rabbit on the big screen, snuggling on the couch, and playing cards and dominoes. A trip to my grandchild’s old school to see last year’s friends and play with them at recess brings an instant smile. Celebrating a birthday, and who could forget the hilarity of Dance Central?
Moments become treasured memories or tainted ones, the choice is ours. When the grands come to visit, whether they are parents or kids, here are some ways we can turn moments into legacy memories.
Lay your plans before the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you plan experiences that will draw your family together. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Slight embarrassment combines with a bit of amusement as I recall an early visit from my in-laws. Hoping to impress them with my budding culinary skills led to some tense moments. Used to eating dinner at an early hour, they tried to get me to abandon my preparation for seafood crepes. Despite their offers take us out to dinner or have pizza delivered, I pressed through with my gourmet meal. If I had have been more secure in my new role as wife, or thought more highly of my guests than my plan, or realized that picking up pizza was really the more honoring activity than preparing a gourmet meal under pressure, we would have a very different memory. Making plans within a family friendly framework and a willingness to be flexible turn moments into more enjoyable memories.
For technology: Technology is here to stay, but it doesn’t have to rule every waking moment. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that there is a time for everything. We can determine times for technology, talking, playing, and sleeping. Build in time for rest through the day between activities.
For conversations: Determine ahead of time how you might handle unsolicited parenting advice, political conversations, or religious discussions. Ask the Lord for a ready response so you aren’t taken off guard. Sometimes a simple “Let’s save that discussion for another time.” Or “Thank you for sharing, we’ve chosen to do something different.” is all that is needed to head off something unpleasant, tainting your memory making moments.
I have learned to ask my daughters for permission before adding my two cents into a conversation. “I have a thought about (child rearing, marriage issues, budgets, etc.) would you like to hear it?” Sometimes they are receptive, and sometimes they would prefer to work through something on their own. The Lord strengthens my relationships with my daughters and their husbands when I honor their preferences.
This will not be a perfect visit. Children are prone to selfishness, and everyone disagree from time to time. Don’t be afraid to discipline your children in the way you know is best for your family. And don’t shy away from agreeing to disagree on controversial topics with family. “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it’s to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
Only God is perfect, so let yourself off the hook. Show yourself the same type of grace that He extends to you. Setting boundaries and realistic expectations offers hope that you’ll avoid the tainted ones. And praying and planning with flexibility can inspire moments that turn to treasured memories, the kind that shape legacies that bridge the gap between generations.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!