Surprising Gifts of Parenthood

“All Wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care — to teach them the meaning of the word, and to correct them.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien via Gandalf, The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien no doubt wrote this out of his experience as a father. To our children, aren’t we all wizards? We navigate the mysterious adult world, we protect them from harm, we care for them by providing food, clothing, shelter, love, and simply our presence. Multitudinous research shows that children raised by a married mother and father do significantly higher than others in other situations. But how much do we parents gain in our journey toward holiness because of our children?

Plenty. First there is the humility and obedience required in caring for another’s needs and wants over my own. This seems to have prompted Tolkien’s quote above. Obedience and humility are not virtues often spoken of today, but they are gateway virtues. Whatever struggles we face on our journey, if we choose to be radically humble and obedient to caring for others, we will find ourselves launched out the quagmire and in new territory.

I’m not talking about blindly giving a child what they want or think they need. I’m talking about being humble and obedient to creating Right Relationship with them and helping them become who God created them to be (not who we may want them to be). Infinitely harder and infinitely more mutually rewarding.

Then there are the unlooked for pearls of wisdom that come from our children, and hold up a mirror to us, laughing and urging us to be less stupid (aka sinful) and more holy. This can be as simple and powerful as the stereotypical child tugging on skirt or pants for attention, reminding us to put the right things ahead of the wrong ones. Or having our oldest come to us because she sees the current state of college education and ask us what options there are for her that will promote her holiness rather than undermine it (hopefully more exciting news on this down the road!).

Parenting is a wild adventure that nurtures us toward holiness at least as much as we do anything for our kids.

Recommend with the heart, comment with the quote below. May God startle you with joy!