Counting the Cost of Parenting

One of the few nuggets of information that I retained from business college was the concept of opportunity cost. According to Investopedia.com, opportunity cost refers to a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action.

When making decisions concerning our time and money we must consider the opportunity cost. Most of us do this in the decisions we make everyday.

If I work full time, than I won’t be there when the kids get home from school.
If my kids play sports, we will frequently have to miss church.
If I teach this class, I won’t be home on Wednesday nights.

There is a cost to parenting. Just as God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. And just as there is a cost to following Christ. Having kids also costs us something.

The question is, who will pay?

I recently heard about a friend of the family I hadn’t seen in a long time. He and his wife have a four-year-old daughter and a baby. Let’s call him Max.

Max had lofty career goals from the beginning. After college, he attended one of the most prestigious, and the most expensive business schools in the country. When all was said and done, he had student loans in the ballpark of $100,000!

He got a job working for one of the most prominent consulting companies in the country. It required travel which meant he would be gone Monday through Thursday just about every week.

After being out of town for a project, he noticed his relationship with his four-year-old daughter was suffering. Max wasn’t home very much, and when he was, he felt like he was constantly disciplining her. They were having very little positive daddy-daughter time. So, he requested to be put on local projects, and their relationship improved.

It’s not just quality time that matters, because . . .  it takes quantity to get to quality.

Max’s next project was only for two weeks. But the project was in Paris. This highly prestigious job was sought after by most of his colleagues, and the competition was fierce. It was the chance of a lifetime and he couldn’t give it up.

So Max went. And he traveled again, and again.

Max’s daughter suffered when she didn’t see daddy for long periods of time. There was a cost, and she was paying it.

There is a sacrifice required when we have kids. If we, as parents, aren’t feeling the pain of sacrifice, than our kids probably are.

Let’s look at another family. Let’s call them Jack and Diane.

Jack is a an I.T. guy at a consulting company. Diane is a partner at a prominent law firm. They have two boys approaching the teen years. Most of their money is tied up in their trendy, suburban, house, and Diane likes to shop for new clothes, new furniture, and new cars. Their lifestyle requires both of their high incomes.

The oldest son is having difficulty in school. He doesn’t fit in and is having a hard time making friends. He experiences bullying at school and doesn’t feel like his parents listen to him. What’s most alarming, however, is that he recently threatened suicide. 

A threat of suicide should never be taken lightly. It’s true, you know your kid best, and every adolescent is different. Some fully intend to follow through and some don’t. However, we must err on the side of caution. We must err on the side of life.

Never ignore a threat of suicide.

If your kid is getting bullied at school and it is affecting him enough to threaten suicide, drastic measures must be taken. Parents must do whatever it takes to help their children out of despair. If parents won’t, who will?

For Jack and Diane, this may mean that one of them quits their job and homeschools their troubled son. Or, they may need to move so he can go to a different school and have a fresh start.

When parents sacrifice for their kids, they feel valued. When parents don’t sacrifice for their kids, they feel worthless.

If we are unwilling to sacrifice for our children, they will likely suffer.

If we want to give our kids the very best, we must be willing to do radical things. Are we willing to sacrifice for our kids? Are we willing to give up our career and/or dreams temporarily so our kids can thrive?

There is a cost to parenting. Will we, as parents, sacrifice for our kids? Or, will we put the “sacrifice” on them?

I am not saying that both parents working is wrong in every situation. Parents know their children, and their needs. And every family is different.

However . . . .

If we, as parents, are not feeling the pain of sacrifice in our parenting, then it’s possible our kids are feeling it.

What are we giving up to be a parent?

Blasting Off to My Greatest Adventure

This morning I pushed the “red button” to launch and signed a book contract. In the next nine to twelve months, Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation will be on bookstore shelves and on Amazon! Praise God! It’s been a long time coming.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

I didn’t make this decision lightly. As I prayed about it for two weeks, I heard God say, “What are you afraid of? I gave you this book.” . . . or, did I? or, Was I just hearing what I wanted to hear God say? or, Was it just the voices in my head?

As I celebrated with family and friends, I could hear the subtle whisper of doubt in my ear.

Although the excitement of signing a book contract is overwhelming, so is the fear. What if no one buys my book? What if I can’t finish it on time? What if I FAIL?!

The fear of failure can be paralyzing.

I was watching William Lane Craig’s Defenders class on YouTube a couple months ago when he said, “Failure might be God’s will for your life.”

God’s will for your life can be that you fail. God can lead you into failure. Because he has things to teach you through failure that you can’t learn through success.  ~WLC

I had to stop and sit with that for a while. That thought has never crossed my mind.

Is it OK if failure is in God’s will for your life or for mine?

Obviously we won’t fail spiritually if we are following Christ. And we won’t fail when it comes to eternity. We have victory in Christ and nothing can change that. Amen!

But, what if it is not in His plan for me to be successful? Ever?! Would I be OK with that?

Again, I sat with it.

Part of me wanted to just jump up and appear holy and righteous by saying, “Whatever Thou willeth I will doeth with joyeth!” But, is that real? Could I really rejoice in that?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that failure and success are a state of mind. They are an attitude not an absolute.

My soul longs to love Jesus Christ and to follow Him with reckless abandon.

If we pursue Jesus as though He is the only thing that we are chasing, nothing else matters. If we surrender our lives to Christ, then success or failure become irrelevant.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter if my book succeeds or fails. All that matters is if it brings glory to God and His Son Jesus Christ. It’s all about Him.

A friend of mine who was about to start fundraising for her new ministry once told me, “don’t chase after the money . . . . chase after the mission, and God will provide.”

As I rest on the threshold of this extraordinary adventure, this is my prayer.

Dear Abba, Father,

Lord, you are so good and so loving. Thank you for your Word and the promise that You will never leave me. You are always by side. Therefore, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Keep my eyes always on You as I venture out into the great unknown. Build my trust day by day, and keep my spirit open to your Word. Help me stay connected to the vine, Lord, because YOU are my lifeblood, YOU are the air I breathe, and YOU are my everything. In Your Son’s precious name. Amen.

To God be the glory!  Here we go!

 

5 Life Questions Teenagers Need Help Answering

Parenting is an awesome responsibility; awesome in the fact that it is joyful and rewarding, and, awesome in the fact that it is an enormous undertaking. It is beautiful, breath-taking, frightening, intimidating, overwhelming, terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. What can I say, it’s awesome!

My kids are fourteen and sixteen. Finally, they are leaving the house wearing clean clothes that match. They no longer get knots in their hair. And, for the most part, they shower and wear clean underwear everyday.

Ahhh, the sweet, clean smell of success! And, like Nanny McPhee, I am tempted to walk off into the sunset satisfied with a job well done.

 . . . . but, wait! The job isn’t done yet!

It ain’t over until the fat lady sings! And she ain’t singing until my kids graduate from high school and leave home.

Much of our kids’ character and direction in life is forming during their teen years and into their twenties. As Christian parents, we mustn’t lose focus or parent on autopilot.

Our kids hit a fork in the road during adolescence. And the critical decisions they make at this juncture will determine the trajectory of their life.

1) They will ask questions of IDENTITY. Who am I?
  • Am I a beauty queen?
  • Am I an athlete?
  • Am I nerd?
  • Am I worthless?
  • Am I a child of God?

Teenagers are questioning their identity now more than ever.

Not only do they have to decide whether they will be the the criminal, the athlete, the basket case, the princess or the brain; and, what college to go to and what they want to be when they grow up. But, our kids are also faced with questions like, “What gender do I identify with?” and, “What is my sexual orientation?

The questions that young people are facing today are confusing at best and dangerous at worst.

If they don’t have guidance when answering these questions, they are likely to be overwhelmed by the lies of the world.

2) They will ask questions of PRIORITY. Who will I live for?
  • Will I live for myself?
  • Will I live for everyone around me?
  • Will I live for the person I love?
  • Will I live for God?

Kids will naturally answer the question, “who will I live for?” with a resounding “Me, of course!”

In a culture obsessed with self-esteem, we are told we should focus on ourselves. We should love ourselves. Because . . . “you’re worth it!”

Nowhere in scripture does it say to love yourself. The greatest love of all is NOT inside of you. The greatest love of all is the love of God.

How our kids answer the question of priority will determine the relational aspect of their future. Will they grow up to be in abusive, or codependent relationships? Will they be people pleasers? Will they be all about themselves?

It is up to Christian parents to model a life lived for God.

3) They will ask questions about REALITY. What is truth?
  • Is there one truth? or, . . .
  • Does everyone have their own truth?
  • Which religion is true?
  • Is God the author of truth?

Truth is what grounds us; morally and physically. Truth is what keeps us from floating around in space. The truth of gravity that is.

Establishing that truth is not relative but absolute is essential to passing on the faith to our kids. Without truth, everything else flies out the window.

“What’s true for me may not be true for you” makes no sense.

Belief can vary from one person to another. Truth cannot. Can a fact apply to one person and not apply to another? Of course not. Neither can truth.

4) They will ask questions about CONTENTMENT. Where will I find peace?
  • In relationships?
  • In substances or things?
  • In achievements or successes?
  • In God?

Coming out of the holidays, the phrase, “peace on earth,” is still fresh on our minds. We are told in scripture that when the truth of God is our foundation, peace is our reward.

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.  Psalm 29:11

However, peace can be tricky. Peace within a family or between nations is not a guarantee in this life. How can our kids be content in Christ and have peace in such a troubled world?

As our kids trek into adulthood, they will need to learn contentment. Our kids will have to answer the questions, How will I be ok with ‘what is‘? and, Where will I find peace?

5) They will ask questions about SUFFERING. How will I cope with life?untitled-design-75
  • With alcohol?
  • With medications?
  • With relationships?
  • With God?

So many kids today don’t have any coping skills. This is evidenced in the high number of school shootings we have witnessed in the past 10 years, and the growing number of teen suicides.

When trials come, and come they will, life goes on whether we want it to or not. Kids need coping skills and they need to know where to go for comfort.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3


Teenagers need input from parents when deciding the answers to these critical questions. They need a voice of truth regularly pointing them toward God.

We hope and pray our kids will answer these questions in a way that puts their life in God’s hands.

  • Who am I? . . . . I am a child of God (Galatians 3:26)
  • Who will I live for? . . . . I will live my life for God (Romans 12:1)
  • What is truth? . . . . God is truth (John 14:6)
  • Where will I find peace? . . . . I will find peace in God (Psalm 46:10)
  • How will I cope with life? . . . . God will get me through (Isaiah 41:10)

Our role does change when our kids become teenagers. But we still have a role.

We cannot stop having input in our teenagers lives. Because the noise of the world will never cease. And, the pull of the world is strong.

So, just before your kids become teens, take a short breather and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then, prepare yourself for the hardest stage of parenting.

If you have teenagers, then you are almost done with the race. Almost. Don’t give up so close to the finish line.