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Somewhere Between Desperation and Exasperation

My wife Leanne and I attended a new parent class at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware 23 years ago. This month long class took place shortly before the birth of our oldest son, James. Besides knowing what to expect along the way, these sessions helped us develop a plan as first time parents. Setting goals is a good place to start, but once your child comes home for the hospital and your extended family leaves, most parents go through what I call somewhere between desperation and exasperation.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the obstinate and willful; he who guards himself will be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:5-6.

If one of the wisest individuals in the Bible struggled to be a father, imagine how hard it is to raise a child without some sort of support group. According to 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon married 700 women and had an additional 300 concubines. If you have ever stayed at a hotel where one or two children keep running down the hall without their parents, think of Solomon’s castle full of disgruntled women and undisciplined children. Perhaps, this led Solomon to write the passage above, learning by trial and error to steer his offspring in the right direction.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

As James’ 23rd birthday approaches, it’s still just as difficult now for me to be a godly parent. While my two boys have moved on to college and grad school, raising a daughter has been a challenge. Being out of my comfort zone in 2021, I have to watch what I say and how I say it or I exasperate Lydia. The past few months have helped me realize that John Gray was correct: Men are from Mars. Woman are from Venus. As I find myself somewhere between desperation and exasperation, I am leaning on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so that I can fulfill Proverbs 22:6 before my daughter graduates high school next spring.

by Jay Mankus

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