Cover image for The sound of my daughter's voice : parenting from birth to the empty nest
Title:
The sound of my daughter's voice : parenting from birth to the empty nest
Author:
Hastings, Wayne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Colorado Springs, CO] : Faith Parenting, Cook Communications, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
207 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Subtitle from cover
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780781434508
Format :
Book

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BV4529 .H36 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

As their children grow, parents must adapt and change their role and relationship with their kids. It's not easy, but here's a practical tool to help. Drawing from his own personal experiences, Wayne Hastings shares the essential steps to developing children into the people God wants them to be - from the day they arrive to the day they leave home. Helps parents understand their changing roles with growing children Encourages parents to help their kids be their best Addresses birth, infancy, school stages, engagement, and more Written in a warm, "parent-to-parent" tone


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Birth -- A Time for Joy ALL OF US NINTH-GRADERS had to do an extensive report on our futures. The project was called an Occupational Notebook, and we needed to project ourselves ten to fifteen years into the future, choosing a college, career, lifestyle, and a place of residence. What fun to read those reports aloud at the end of the year!    I had forgotten about the Notebook until we recently moved from Michigan to California. Unpacking one of the boxes, I found it, took a little break from the "fun" of unpacking, and read that report for the first time in quite awhile.     What surprised me was the lifestyle section. Here I was, a father of two wonderful children, yet as I read the Notebook, I had said nothing at all about children. According to my ninth-grade vision, I wasn't even married. I was single, driving a Jaguar XKE, and living in Phoenix!     Now, my wife, when she caught me taking a break, read the report and said, "Look at it this way, Wayne, most ninth-grade boys don't think about marriage." She may be right, but we'd been assigned to think about it, and as I talked with her, I realized that I just couldn't remember considering the idea of having children. It had simply been out of the question for me.     Now, being a father and looking back, I don't know what I'd do without my children. Over the years, they've given me unbelievable pleasure (and yes, some pain) and taught me so many lessons. Therefore, the moral of this story is this-- If I can do this parenting thing, then anybody can . So please be encouraged that someone who never thought he would be a parent actually is a parent ... and loves it!     Parenting is work, no doubt about that. However, the rewards far exceed the effort. But we can't approach it haphazardly. There are, I believe, certain steps that parents need to adopt in order to rear their children effectively. Let's look at those steps, starting at birth in this chapter and then moving to other "times" as this book unfolds. New Baby, Long Drive Home The first time I heard my daughter's voice, it was beautiful to me, even though it was the sound of crying. When Jennifer was born, the local hospital didn't allow fathers into the delivery room, so I didn't get to hear her very first cry. (To this day, I feel I was robbed of a wonderful experience.) I was able to be there when our son Zachary was born, but with Jennifer, I was the pacing father in the waiting room, begging the hours to pass more quickly in the middle of the night. I watched the hands on the clock as they refused to move until--finally!--a short, red-haired goddess with a white cap walked over to me flashing the most incredible smile: "It's a nice, healthy, chubby little girl, Mr. Hastings! Mother and Daughter are doing just fine." I could have jumped out of my skin with delight. I was a father!     Wait a minute.... I'm a father? What in the world do I do now?     Actually, at that moment, there wasn't a thing to do. I briefly saw Pam and went to my parents' house to announce the news and get some sleep. When I awoke, we were all happy, but I still had this nagging thought, Me, a father?     It really sunk in as we were driving Jennifer home from the hospital. That's when I heard her first cry. We were so nervous! I drove like a very senior citizen. Pam held on to that little bundle so tightly. And, of course, Jennifer just cried and cried, all the way home. Nothing we did seemed to help.     Arriving home didn't help.     Walking Jennifer up and down the hallway didn't help.     Talking to her like a clown didn't help.     Making cute faces like a baby camel didn't help.     Standing on my head juggling boiled eggs didn't help.     (What have you tried? Believe me ... it doesn't help.)     Pam was so patient, but I was a nervous wreck!     Over the next few weeks we became more settled, and Jennifer became the center of our attention. I still didn't have a clue as to what I needed to do--what was this fatherhood stuff all about? Pam seemed to be a good mother, but what was I doing?     As time progressed, Pam increasingly became a great mother, but I was drifting. Then one evening Pam and I had a long talk. She was frustrated with my seeming lack of support of her and her new mothering role. She needed my help, and she told me that I also had a role to play in rearing our new baby.     Looking back, I can see that at that moment an important lesson emerged for me and for all parents: Birth is a time for taking up responsibility, the responsibility of serving . It is a time for a husband to serve his wife, and it is a time for a father to begin learning how to serve his child. The Joy of Responsibility Charles Kingsley once said, "Do today's duty ... and don't weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things that you can't see and couldn't understand if you saw them." His words sum up what I was doing. Things I couldn't see were distracting me, and they were things I couldn't understand. Of course, I wasn't expected to be the perfect parent the moment we brought Jennifer home from the hospital. All Pam expected of me was to take responsibility--to serve her and Jennifer.     Look at how the wise men responded to Jesus' birth. Matthew 2:10 says, "And when they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (KJV). Then they chose to take responsibility. They chose to respond to God's leading by doing something new, difficult, and a bit scary. When we're faced with new or difficult situations, we can choose to respond in a number of ways. The story of Jesus' birth suggests at least three options:     · We can react with fear . When new circumstances come along, we can pull back in fear. In my first book, Trusting Enough to Parent , I defined FEAR as Future Events Appearing Real. When we fail to TRUST (Truly Rely on Scriptural Truth) but instead look ahead at a circumstance or a challenge and let our imaginations control us to the point of inaction or escapism, then we're wallowing deep in the trenches of fear. King Herod, in the first few chapters of Matthew is a great biblical example of FEAR. Matthew 2:3 tells us he was "disturbed" by the news. In verse 7, he called the Magi together "secretly." In verse 16, he was "furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under" (NIV). Talk about fearful! This reprehensible ruler certainly wasn't taking up his God-given responsibility to serve. Remember: The best way to conquer FEAR is to TRUST.     · We can turn away with indifference . This is the second way we can respond when life's challenges crash in upon us and upset our routines. Throughout the Gospels, we see the religious leaders of Jesus' day acting apathetically to the message of a whole new kingdom that should have turned their world upside down. They didn't want that to happen, though! Here is God's Son among humankind, and all the religious leaders can do is question Him, turning away from the gift God had given them. "These priests knew the Scriptures and pointed others to the Savior, but they would not go to worship Him themselves! They quoted Micah 5:2 but didn't obey it. They were five miles from the very Son of God, yet they didn't go to see Him!"     On vacation this year, I was saddened to see how many parents seemed indifferent toward their children. Pam and I went to a popular place for family vacations and, time after time, we saw fathers and mothers who were simply unresponsive to their children. Family members were all together as a group, but the level of indifference was so high that only a few repeated patterns of physical resemblance--maybe the cute pug noses, or the jumbo ears, or the curly black locks--made it seem that the kids and parents were related at all. But biological cloning is not family life! Remember: The best way to conquer INDIFFERENCE is to GET INVOLVED.     · We can move into joy . The wise men decided to be joyful with this new circumstance. These men were Gentiles, yet they joyfully chose to go and worship Jesus. The Magi were seeking the King; Herod was opposing the King; and the religious leaders were ignoring the King.     Oswald Chambers wrote once that happiness depends on what happens and joy does not. Joy is an inner peace and stillness that helps us focus on what we should do, while neither looking ahead or behind. It grows out of sincere worship of God. In worship the Lord encourages us to take a "time out" from everything else to focus on thankfulness, to celebrate and enjoy all He has given us, and to let our gratitude move us into servanthood. Remember: JOY leads to SERVING.     The other two responses, fear and indifference, lead us into escape and noninvolvement. Joy, on the other hand, leads us into God's presence and frees us to serve. When we respond as the Magi responded, we carve out for ourselves a wonderful experience of serving. The Magi recognized the gift God had given the world, and they gave back to God in wonder and worship. They chose to serve.     Like the wise men, parents need to examine their response to parenthood. The Magi responded to God's leading, experienced great joy, and decided to serve. Parents who respond out of indifference or FEAR don't have the opportunity of joy. Chances are the wise men left their encounter with Christ changed men and content with what they had done. Parents who face the new responsibility with joy feel the same contentment and also gain tremendous benefit from being with their children. The Joy of Serving Every stage of our children's lives is a time for parents to serve. It hit me hardest just after we brought Jennifer home from the hospital. I needed to get involved, and I needed to respond with joy and to learn how to serve both my wife and my new daughter. Second Timothy 2:24-26 (KJV) reads: The servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will .     The verse is sound advice from Paul to his beloved Timothy. He is saying, "Be a servant and stop fighting. Be gentle and patient, and instruct people who don't have a clue as to what's right or wrong." In other words, take responsibility, stop fighting with people, find joy, and serve.     Paul tells Timothy that false teaching will always be divisive, but the Lord's servant should not be a fighter but a promoter of unity, by being kind ("gentle") to everyone. Such servants will be forbearing in the face of conflict or ill treatment. The Lord's servant must treat even his opponents with gentle instruction characterized by "meekness" (gentleness with humility).     Parents aren't normally fighting an enemy, of course. Sometimes, however, battling our rotten attitudes and fiery emotions can be just as tough as defending a battlefield fortress from a devastating mortar barrage. Yes, the shrapnel can fly in any family, and I'm sure you've taken more than a little flak already! But in cases where emotions are running white hot, we're called to set our own needs aside and to simply serve. Paul reminds Timothy that being gentle, humble, and "ready to bear evil-treatment without resentment" are hallmarks of someone committed to serving others.     I love sports and have played them all my life. At the time our daughter was born, I was playing golf almost weekly. I was also on a league softball team that had games at least weekly, if not twice a week. I was busy doing my own thing and, using Paul's words, fighting the change that had come into my life. I sure didn't want to give up my sports.     Pam and I talked about it (more than likely quarreled a few times about it), and over time I realized that I wasn't serving my family to the best of my ability. Therefore, I decided to put softball and golf on the shelf. Now, in retrospect, I wouldn't trade the family time I created by this decision for any string of holes-in-one or home runs. I can vividly remember some very special times with both Jennifer and Zachary that I probably would have lost if I'd been so self-absorbed in those hobbies that kept me away from home.     Saturday, around our house, became Dad's day. Almost every Saturday, I took over from Pam and spent time with the kids. From the days he began walking, Zachary would join me in mowing the lawn. He walked right beside me, holding onto the mower (and living in Southern California meant lots of lawn mowing). Those memories will be with me forever. I learned to be a servant to my kids' needs, being there for them and enjoying every moment. Putting Yourself ... Last Remember this old Sunday School song? J.O.Y., J.O. Y. Tell you what it means: Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.     This cute little ditty is actually an eloquent symphony of basic servant-living theology. It puts into simple (and hard to forget) words the action a servant must take if he is to truly serve others. Look closely at the example of Jesus. He came down from heaven and freed the world's people, not Himself. He did the will of the Father and put Himself last. Can anyone imagine the anguish He must have felt? Can anyone truly understand what it meant to be King of Kings and die like a common thief?     We can, however, learn the lessons of Christ. One in particular that needs to be front and center is the idea of putting ourselves last. Isaiah 42 describes the coming Messiah. The passage begins: 1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. --Isaiah 42:1-4 (NIV)     Not only is God describing the Messiah, but He is also describing the qualities of a servant. Consider them with me:     · God delights in His servant . It is for His pleasure that we serve. When we put God's plan to work and serve others (our children and families in this case) we are not looking for personal glory or esteem. As we seek to please Him, God delights in our sacrifice and dedication.     · God energizes His servant . God puts His Spirit on him, and in so doing, provides the energy for every task. Having a servant's heart is never easy, yet God in His wisdom energizes the servant to carry out His will. God energizes us for servant-like action.     · God quiets His servant . A true servant of the Lord doesn't need to shout his or her accomplishments from the housetops. True servants do their work quietly and with one purpose in mind--to glorify God and work out His will. When we dedicate our lives to serving others, God calms our heart and shows us that in quietness we are shouting His praise.     · God empowers His servant . How easy it would be for us to attempt all of this our own strength! God, however, gives us the willingness to be gentle and dependent while accomplishing His purposes. How tempting it would be to do the obvious--but no, God empowers us to maintain focus and look to Him for each succeeding step.     · God balances His servant . God provides His faithful servant with a unique support system. God provides wisdom to judge situations and acts as the fulcrum between fatigue and despair. The servant sees so much to do all around him; he needs God's full support. God helps the servant maintain equilibrium at all times.     The culmination of God's work in the servant's heart is hope and justice. Perhaps not the justice we see on Court TV , but a justice driven by God's law and by the attitude of the servant's heart. Furthermore, the hope lies not in what we can do alone, but what we can do as a servant controlled by a loving God who provides exactly what we need to be the servant-leader of our homes. Bible commentator William Barclay said: There are always two ways of doing things. A man can do the irreducible minimum and not a stroke more; he can do it in such a way as to make it clear that he hates the whole thing; he can do it with the barest minimum of efficiency and no more; or he can do it with a smile, with a gracious courtesy, with a determination, not only to do this thing, but to do it well and graciously. He can do it, not simply as well as he has to, but far better than anyone has any right to expect him to. The inefficient workman, the resentful servant, the ungracious helper have not even begun to have the right idea of the Christian life. The Christian is not concerned to do as he likes; he is concerned only to help, even when the demand for help is discourteous, unreasonable and tyrannical . Putting Others First If the servant attitude demands that we put ourselves last, it is only natural, then, to put others first. Yet it's one of those things easier said than done.     The Robin Williams movie Hook provides a good example of what can happen. Robin plays Peter Banning, a successful attorney and businessman. He can't seem to separate himself from his office or his clients. He has a son who plays baseball and wants his father to see him play. Peter, however, puts everything else first and doesn't get to see his son play ball.     As the story unfolds, we discover that Peter Banning is actually the grown-up Peter Pan. He and the family go to visit Granny Wendy Darling and the legendary Captain Hook kidnaps Peter's son. Peter Banning returns to never-never land only to discover that Captain Hook has stolen his son's affections. Why? Because Hook was smart enough to realize that if he paid attention to the boy--seemingly giving him love--that he could turn him against his father.     The movie ends with a marvelous scene in which Peter Pan-Banning learns the true value of putting his son first. He quickly disposes of the motley Captain Hook and returns home a changed man with his priorities straight. Peter Pan-Banning learns the power of putting others' needs first. The Gospel of Mark reads: 33 After they arrived at Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples settled in the house where they would be staying. Jesus asked them, "What were you discussing out on the road?" 34 But they didn't answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him. Then he said, "Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else." --Mark 9:33-35 (NLT)     This Scripture, above any others, reveals how the disciples didn't yet realize who Jesus was and what He expected from them. Repeatedly He had told them what awaited Him in Jerusalem, and yet they were still thinking of His Kingdom in earthly terms and of themselves as His heads of state. How many times do we miss the point? We spend our time thinking about the absolute wrong thing while our child is saying, "Hey, I'm hurting! Pay attention to my needs, not whether or not you are going to make it!"     The disciples, like many parents, knew they were wrong. When Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about, they had nothing to say. It was the silence of shame. They had no defense. Just like Peter Pan-Banning, parents know what they should do, yet they're caught up in something else that seems more important for the moment. According to William Barclay: Jesus dealt with this very seriously. It says that he sat down and called the Twelve to Him. When a Rabbi was teaching as a Rabbi, as a master teaches his scholars and disciples, when he was really making a pronouncement, he sat to teach. Jesus deliberately took up the position of a Rabbi teaching HIS pupils before He spoke. And then He told them that if they sought for greatness in His Kingdom they must find it, not by being first but by being last, not by being masters but by being servants of all. It wasn't that Jesus abolished ambition. Rather He recreated and sublimated ambition. For the ambition to rule He substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us He substituted the ambition to do things for others .     Doesn't this make sense? What truly great men do you know who put themselves first? Rather they find ways of helping others be successful. While living in our first home, we had wonderful neighbors. Bill Ashcraft was a fine man who willingly gave, from his heart, everything he had. Pam and I were newly married, low on money, and very naive. Bill, however, was always ready to help us. Whether it was lending me tools or teaching me how to fix things around the house, Bill was always there for my family and me. He knew what it meant to be a servant and put others first.     British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin paid a noble tribute to Lord Curzon when Curzon died. He said: I want, before I sit down, to say one or two things that no one but I can say. A Prime Minister sees human nature bared to the bone, and it was my chance to see him twice when he suffered great disappointment--the time when I was preferred to him as Prime Minister, and the time when I had to tell him that he could render greater service to the country as chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence [sic] than in the Foreign Office. Each of these occasions was a profound and bitter disappointment to him, but never for one moment did he show by word, look, or innuendo, or by any reference to the subject afterwards, that he was dissatisfied. He bore no grudge, and he pursued no other course than the one I expected of him, of doing his duty where it was decided he could best render service .     Here was a man whose greatness lay not in the fact that he reached the highest offices of state, but in the fact that he was ready to serve his country anywhere.     True selflessness is rare, but it is remembered when it is found. The ancient Greeks told the story of a Spartan named Paedaretos. Three hundred men were to be chosen to govern Sparta, and Paedaretos was a candidate. However, in the end, his name wasn't on the list. "I am sorry," said one of his friends, "that you were not elected. The people ought to have known what a wise officer of state you would have made."     "I am glad," said Paedaretos, "that in Sparta there are three hundred men better than I am." Here was a man who became a legend because he was prepared to give to others the first place and to bear no ill will.     How many problems could be solved if men and women lived for what they could do for others and not only for what they could get for themselves? Jesus gives not only the disciples a great lesson but us parents as well. We must strive to be last--by putting our children first. (Continues...) Copyright © 2000 Wayne Hastings. All rights reserved.