by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
When the Adamson’s rescued the three orphaned lion cubs, they had no inkling of what was ahead of them. Their first challenge was an urgent one: devise a substitute for the mother’s milk that the cubs would accept. It took seventeen tries and a few anxious days as they watched the cubs weaken. The surrogate parents’ persistence paid off and soon they had three lively animals who grew quickly into adolescence and created all kinds of trouble. It was only months later when Elsa, the cub they kept and raised, reached adult stature, that serious problems arose. The dramatic account does a fine job of capturing this part of the adventure. It is well worth an hour or so to watch the film’s version.
I think I may have given the impression that the four aspects of ‘child’ rearing as exemplified in the film were simple and sequential when I applied these challenges to adults who raise human children: Protect – Provide for – Prepare – Propel. This is far from the truth. In some way, parents must wisely make use of these four strategies as long as they live. There is an element of sequence, of course, but it’s conditioned by the stages of a child’s development, and I would suggest that all four are needed from the very beginning of an offspring’s life to the end. It’s a matter of how much and when and how each parenting skill merges with the next, and the one before it.
So, it’s a complex matter. For instance, we protect an infant from falling out of bed, but we eventually take him out of a crib. Great attention is often given to the first ‘grownup bed’ a child ‘graduates’ to, but then, we usually put a railing on the top bunk. As for propelling, who does not fondly remember our child’s first attempts at walking as we urged her to let go of the furniture and walk to momma (or poppa)! Of course, it was more a stagger than a firm step, but we were ecstatic with the success.
These parenting instincts, these strategies, are God’s gift to enable us to fulfill his plan of generational faithfulness. This strand of truth, woven throughout Scriptures, is very clearly stated in Psalm 22:30, 31: Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done. Abraham’s story is one Bible narrative among many that provides a commentary on this truth. Beginning in Genesis, all the way to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament one can find God’s plan unfolding.
I’ve barely scratched the surface on these two topics: the parenting strategies of protecting, providing for, preparing and propelling children into adulthood and God’s overarching plan of generational faithfulness for his beloved children. I hope this has whetted an appetite to explore more.
Why not take your own children on the adventure with you? Talk about where they feel you’ve hit the mark in your parenting role. If you’re brave enough, welcome their suggestions for improvement. And, certainly, take them through a Scripture adventure with Abraham from Genesis 12 to Hebrews 11 so they can begin to appreciate the part they have in God’s plan for generational faithfulness. It just might bring you some ‘leaping joy,’ if not in real life action, at least figuratively.
Let each generation tell its children of God’s mighty acts. Psalm 145:4