Now and Later: Parenting with the long game in mind – Jeremy Austill
Now and Later: Parenting with the long game in mind

It happened.

The summer ended.

I state the following with a degree of caution. My wife was an educator for twelve years, so I respect educators, academic administrators, and the entire educational process…

But…

I hate school.

Some people love school. They love the social dynamic, the structure, learning, extra-curricular activities, so on and so forth. I did not. I am grateful for my education, but I didn’t like it…probably not even a smidge.

Therefore, when we drove our kids to school for the first day of the new year, I felt like I was punishing them…especially my son. My daughter, she fits into the “school is full of flowers, unicorns, rainbows, friends, and pure awesomeness”. She essentially walks around all day with the LEGO movie song, “Everything is Awesome” blaring in her head. My son, he inherited my less than cheery outlook. Getting him ready to go to school felt like I was wronging him in some way.

Parenting tends to create that tension on the regular. I love my children in a way that words will never adequately convey. My vocabulary is utterly impoverished in its ability to relay how I feel about those two precious ones who sleep down the hall. Yet so many times that love compels me to actions, decisions and statements that feel like the antithesis of love.

They need school. A strong education will serve them well in life. (I say this to imply not only public school, but also private school and homeschooling). It is a bit inconvenient. It is long, slow, and rigorous. It is demanding and challenging. I could keep them home all day and just let them play with toys, watch YouTube, and run the DVR. It would certainly be easier and they would love it.

That’s the catch. Kids haven’t lived long enough to know what is good for them. They know what they love…what they enjoy…what is fun…but they aren’t as well versed in what is necessary for their future. As parents we have the advantage of adulthood.

We try really hard to give our kids enjoyment. We want them to have great experiences. My wife knows our kids so well…their likes and dislikes…she is incredible and doing the little, personal, special things, that make them light up.

But our goal as parents is to always be future minded. The future demands that we do the difficult thing today so they become the person they need to be tomorrow. It seems a lot of our parenting experiences is wrapped up in this simple thought…

Consciously, intentionally, and consistently dismissing temporary comfort and convenience for the bigger payoff down the road. My personal convenience…the easy way out…should not be the governing influence in my parenting.

We are raising human beings, made in God’s image, with the capacity to do great good, or great evil…with the capability of thriving in life or flailing…

Honestly, I don’t know if we are parenting our kids well or not…what parent, in midst of doing it, really knows?

But I do know this…parenting is not supposed to be easy or convenient. we embrace that reality. We make decisions out of that reality.

So we took them to school today. It felt awful, but it was the right thing to do. In part because we are legally obligated to do so, and in part because the future version of themselves needs us to do what isn’t fun or convenient, but what is necessary.

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