I am the father of three beautiful children all of which I am completely smitten by. My wife sometimes laughs at me because I tell her which one of our kids is my absolute favorite, cycling through each kid, appreciating things they say or do or their general disposition. But my oldest daughter has been my favorite the longest. During these five years I’ve watched her learn and grow and change. It is a wonder to behold who this little lady is! All my children are their own persons and any parent will tell you that raising kids is as much a discovery of who this little stranger you’ve welcomed is, as it is about anything else.
And first kids are special. I don’t mean that the others are not, but my daughter ‘broke us in.’ Her smile grabbed my heart in a way that no kid before ever did. We watched her experience milestones and at every stage I’ve beamed with pride. We saw her personality blossom and we love how much she enjoys people, and how imaginative she is. At five, I have no idea who she will become, but love helping to foster her development and encourage her.
Of course being the first, she also bears the brunt of our bad parenting. I personally have sometimes been impatient with her and expecting her to understand things she wasn’t developmentally ready for. With my other kids I’ve learned a little more about respecting life stage and so when we find ourselves exasperated, aggravated and at the end of ourselves, we also remind ourselves how our oldest daughter behaved at the same age and stage. The kids are all different, but a lot of our issues are the same. I have more patience, kindness and understanding with my two littler ones, in part because their big sister taught me.
As a Christian, I also want to foster faith in my children and am always looking for ways to introduce them to Jesus and form them in the faith. I read stories and talk about Jesus and their experience and pray daily with them. I love hearing my daughter recount bible stories and talk about what Jesus did. Of course at their ages I don’t know what any of my kids really understands but I am hopeful that my efforts bear fruit. One of my favorite times of day, is tucking my daughters in at night and hearing about their day. I always ask them about their favorite part of the day, and I probe to see if I can get them to talk about the hard stuff (which at 5 and younger is usually getting in trouble) and I ask them if they want to pray for anyone. When my older daughter prays, it is usually for one or two people (a grandparent or aunt) and fairly simple, but it is a start. I want to her to grow into a woman of prayer and someone who cares deeply for God and others. That’s my prayer, and in small ways, she’s on her way.
The other day she began telling me a story. She said, “Once I was in my mommy’s tummy and I came out and was a little baby.” She paused and said, “This is a long story which is never going to end. I hope it never ends.” Daughter of mine, your hope is my hope. May you grow in the knowledge of Christ and trust yourself to his everlasting care. Amen.
Here is a link to a post I did a year and a half ago reflecting on what my children have taught me about God’s love: