Our family was driving in the car yesterday when my daughter uttered a statement in a fit of two-year old, tired, toddler angst. She said, “I cry every day because of mommy and daddy.” She was upset because she was tired and we did not have her pacifier (I know, I know… we’re trying to give it up, but it really works). She was entirely serious about her statement. How do I know? My wife asked her to repeat it. “I cry every day because of mommy and daddy.” Wow. If our parenting is so bad, I guess we should just give up, right? Should we just stop trying since she’s not happy? Of course not.
The point here is not what my daughter said. She’s not old enough to understand how what she says affects other people. She’s just a toddler. But it made me think. Would I ever give up on my kid? What would she have to say to make me stop loving her? What would she have to do to make me stop trying? When I asked myself those questions, I couldn’t think of anything that would make me walk away from my love for and responsibility to her as a father.
What if she said she hates me? What if she robbed a bank? What if she developed a drug habit and stole from us? What if she killed someone? What if she tried to harm me or my wife? What if she rebelled against all of the values that we tried to model for her? What if…? And then I came to realize – as a parent, I will never give up on my kid. Did you read that? Don’t skip over it.
I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON MY KID.
I know the phrase she said in her tired tantrum is meaningless. I know she will probably say she hates me at some point for discipline that she thinks is unfair. I know she will probably not like my opinion of the boys that she becomes interested in. But that’s my job. I’m her dad.
My job is not to try to be her best friend to fulfill my own selfish need for affection. My job is to be the sort of person that she wants to be like. My job is to raise her to be a bright, successful, happy young woman that can be self-sufficient and have the skills to raise a family of her own. My job is to protect her from teenage boys those that would try to take advantage of her. My job is to try to instill a values system of black and white that will help her navigate this murky world of gray. It involves patience, discipline, and unconditional (sometimes tough) love.
If she strays away from the path, I will always try to get her back on track. If she walks down a dark road, I’ll take the light out to look for her. If she is ever lost at sea, I’ll be throwing the life preserver. If she wants nothing to do with me, I will still pray for her well-being and long for a restoration of relationship. No matter what she does, I will NEVER give up on her.
Thinking about this made me feel for those parents who have a severed relationship with their child. I can’t even imagine the difficulty of what you’re dealing with. Only you can make the decision to keep trying, and I would encourage you by saying “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
If it means saying you’re sorry, say it. If it means offering undeserved forgiveness, give it. If it means that you have to give up everything in order to make it happen, do it. That child and your relationship is worth it. Don’t give up.