The Payoff for Parents

When you are in the middle of a super challenging season in your parenting do you ever wonder what the payoff is?  Why do you even bother to keep engaging, to keep trying, especially if your kid isn’t receiving any of it?  Every good parent has been in that  place and asked those questions.  This true story will encourage you.

Today, I had the great pleasure of spending time with a dearest friend of almost 25 years.  I taught her daughter when she was in second grade and she is now in her twenties!  I suddenly feel very old.  I’ve watched my friend and her husband parent their three children who are all adults now.  I’ve seen the ups and the downs first hand and my friend has been brave and honest enough to share with me the truth about the trials and challenges she has faced as a mother.  But what she shared with me today brought me tears… the most proud and joyful kind.

Her oldest son, 26,  came to her yesterday, all on his own, and confided something deep and profound about his feelings that has been weighing on him.  It was powerful, amazing and beautiful… not to mention completely authentic and brave of him.  I got choked up as she was telling me the story… not because of what he told her but because he felt safe, confident and comfortable enough to have the conversation with her. What I realized is that the only reason this ever happened with her son is because of the relationship she has spent twenty-some years building with him.  She has always validated him, affirmed him, guided and directed him, disciplined him and was authentic herself within their relationship.  And the payoff for her was this intimate conversation they had… as an adult, he let her in to a deep and intimate place of his heart.  Beautiful! Does it get better?  I think not.

I am so proud of my friend and share in her joy!  But the only reason I can see the true beauty of this is because she has always been extremely real and genuine with me about herself and her family.  She didn’t cover up, make excuses or protect reputations… she simply shared her beautiful life with me as her very close friend (not with the whole world).  And for this reason, I know the real power of what happened in that conversation with her son.  She invested, worked at, and built a relationship with him that has proven itself.

So parents, be encouraged!  Know that if you truly work at and build a relationship with your kids that isn’t about things or providing services… but a real relationship that includes vulnerabilities, failures, time together, joys and even sorrows… it will be worth it!  You will profoundly impact them as a human being for the better.  What can be a more rewarding payoff for a parent?

Written by Lisa Smith

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