Roots and Wings and Parenting Things

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.
One is roots.  The other is wings.”
Hodding Carter, Jr.

Like every parent I know, I’ve made my share of blunders. There are times I wonder if something I said or did in one of my many moments of impatience permanentlylike-a-tree warped my children, and that’s why I’m so often tempted to throw my hands up and plunge into “passive parenting” mode.    Sometimes it seems they could do a lot better than to have me as a parent, and they could do a better job on their own!

But then I realize that God gave these children to me, (Psalm 127:3) and that parenting really involves stewardship and conscious thought about what we want leave our children.   My job is to steward and leave a legacy for them as I depend on God for the wisdom and patience and love needed for them to grow, take root and then have lives that flourish.The apostle Paul is a good example of this.  He writes as a spiritual father to the Ephesians and says his earnest prayer is for them to be “rooted and grounded in love”. (Ephesians 3:17) He knew that if a person had the benefit of Christ’s love as the foundation of their lives, they would be able to thrive. So we as a parents, should also have the same concern as Paul and model the same for our kids.

If a person is “rooted” according to this text, it means  “to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, to render firm, to fix, establish, and cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded”.  As parents, we cause our children’s roots to grow deep by providing the nutrients of unconditional love and guidance.

“Grounded” means “to lay the foundation, to found”.   Along with God, we are the “founders” of our children’s lives, so in partnership with Him, we help them have a good foundation for life when we provide instruction and training, boundaries and discipline.

And we must love unconditionally – when we love this way, we have a preference for our children’s well-being and everything about them is viewed through this lens.  We seek active good in their lives.  At times it may involve giving them more freedom, and at others it may involve giving them more responsibility.  At times, it may mean putting ourselves last.  Active good never rests on its laurels- love is a verb and always involves action, attention and affirmation.

There may come a time when the winds of disappointment and hardship blow in our kids’ lives, but if their roots are deep, they will stay stable and intact.  They may lose a few leaves along the way and have to regrow branches, but they will bud, blossom and bear the fruit of a productive life.  Proverbs 22:6 puts it this way:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

What would it look like if our children had wings?  For parents who are Christ followers, it would be watching their lives take flight on higher principles— of honesty, faith, love, generosity and service to others,  just to name a few.   Whenever parents take the time to teach and model these principles for their children, they are in essence teaching them to view life from a higher perspective and that will elevate all parts of their lives.  What parent wouldn’t want that?

In his book, Parenting: From Surviving to Thriving, Chuck Swindoll says the best-kept secret to wise parenting is this:

“The job of a parent it to help their children come to know themselves, grow to like themselves, and find satisfaction in being themselves.”

Nobody does the parenting thing perfectly, that’s the bad news.  The good news is, nobody has to. We can’t be everything we’d like to be as fathers and mothers, but we can still give our children roots, wings, unending love and a lifetime of our hearts and prayers.  Those gifts, no matter how imperfectly given, will bear fruit now and forever.

© 2013 Renee Dallas

For MomsNEXT Newport Mesa Church 2013

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