On Parenting...

We've been parents for a while now, and with more children than most people we know. We've gotten used to hearing things like:

So, are you guys done yet?

How many more kids are you gonna have?

Isn't it hard work having four?

The first two questions are just rude, but we've gotten pretty good at deflecting the question without embarrassing the person who asked - even though they might deserve it. The third question isn't rude, though. It's genuine, and it's a question every parent must answer eventually. I work outside the home, and my wife is a full-time mom, so our answers to that question haven't always been the same.

Raising four kids used to mean she would stay home during the day, take them to doctor appointments and preschool, feed them, dress them (the younger ones), and plan the day's activities, etc. My part was to come home after work, play with them after dinner, bathe them if necessary, and read to them at bedtime. On weekends, I would stay home with them while she went shopping in the morning (or Sunday afternoon), and then we would have family time together in the evening. This could all be time-consuming, but not usually hard, and usually pleasant.

OK, so I've simplified it a bit. There's more to it than that, and it's never completely defined. But we've developed something of a routine which has made manageable the logistics of raising four children. The thing is, parenting is much more than the routine or the logisitcs. As parents, we are challenged to raise our children to be valuable, contributing members of their community. When they're very young, that means teaching them obedience, and then later to value the feelings of others. Those, too, were relatively easy.

But now our older children have reached an age where right and wrong are more than a simple list of Do's and Don'ts. The thing they most need to learn now is judgement. This is a much more complex thing to teach, because it is subjective by definition. Something tells me this is where it actually becomes hard work.

More to come...