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The Present-Future Seesaw

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Are we near-sighted or long-view parents? Do we focus on the right now or the future? Somehow we have to manage the present - this gift God has given us of living and being in the moment as our lives unfold and our children are as they are, while not losing sight of the future and all God has called us to be.

If we are too present focused, we enjoy the moments but fall short in preparing for what is next. If we are too future focused, we plan and train well, but miss the joy surrounding us. When we live in both, we find peace - the peace of an afternoon snuggle or reading an extra book at bedtime just because, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child will be ready for their future.

Isn’t God’s example a beautiful path to follow in raising our own children? He is patient as he waits for us to spend time with him, to seek his will, to learn his word and implement it in our lives. He desires our patience with our children as they learn and grow. He lets us soak up a glorious sunset or bask in the glow of a rainbow. But he also recognizes our need to plan and prepare, and lets us model skills and character for our children as we do life together. Most of the parents I know lean toward one side; it is hard to keep our heads and hearts planted in both the now and the not yet.

To find balance, we have to get back to some basics. As my new teen driver chauffeured me this week, I purposefully put my phone in my purse. Seems silly to have to put it out of reach, but I have fallen into a habit of scrolling when being driven somewhere. This is not living in the moment with my kids, my husband, or whomever is at the wheel. This verse came to mind: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭15‬-‭16‬ ‭NIV‬‬ I firmly believe the enemy has an advantage when we are distracted. Instead of eye candy, I turned my focus to meaningful conversation - which if you have teens, you know can be scarce.

On the flip side, we enjoy play and family time, a good game or puzzle, or a movie and find balance teaching what good work looks like. Whether you have littles who are learning to load and unload the dishwasher and match socks, or bigs who are mowing grass or cleaning bathrooms, we have to make the extra effort to show our children our expectations for well-done chores. Little by little, they are becoming adults; little by little, we are training them to be good ones.

On which end of the see-saw do you land? If you are blessed to live in the present, enjoy it and look for chances to think about and prepare for the future. If you are gifted as a planner and forward thinker, give yourself pause to stop thinking and just be in the moment. Just as God exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he made us to be able to find balance in our parenting as we draw nearer to him.

- Ella Herlihy

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