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Positive Parenting
Children! They complicate our lives, but enrich them beyond measure. Do we appreciate them for who they really are?

I have the flu. I think doctors have dubbed it the Shanghai Swine Flu. Symptoms include everything from voice loss to a lack of enough physical stamina to hold up a paperback. Painfully I muster up enough energy to reach for the remote control.

"Kids are a pain," says one. "They're—like—so much—like—total trouble, you know?"

On one of the three channels we receive, the host has just finished his opening tirade and now a kind-faced woman in a blue dress turns toward the camera. "The happiest day in my life," she says, smiling, "will be the day my daughter leaves home. I regretted my decision to have her from day one—you know, the day she was born." Some in the audience heckle. Others applaud. The host excitedly clutches his microphone and runs to the next aisle. His pockets jingle. The phones light up.

I've finally found a few people who are even sicker than me.

The director cuts back to the woman in blue. She is chewing gum now and nervously swinging one leg. I am thinking to myself: I sure hope her daughter never sees this.

Incredibly, her daughter is in the audience. Impossible. An 11-year-old with a two-year-old mother. "My daughter knows how I feel," the woman in blue continues, still smiling, still chewing gum. "We have a very open relationship."

By the time the credits roll, others are beginning to share her sentiments. "Kids are a pain," says one. "They're—like—so much—like—total trouble, you know?" Others agree: "I'd like to get on with my life … My career's been put on hold … How can I take three steps forward with four kids holding me back? … We've decided not to have kids. We'll have things like holidays instead."

I suppose I'd be lying if I didn't admit that parenting has its drawbacks. Three kids eat up to 50 percent of a household's income, the statistics tell us. And that's just on Wednesday! However you look at it, children aren't the best financial move you'll ever make. Without children I wouldn't be stepping on Lego landmines after midnight. Or frantically searching for one shoe, a hammer or the remote control. And just think of the vacations we've missed. The peace and quiet. The evenings out. The weekends together—alone.

As I rest on my self-pity, the sound of little feet echoes down the hall. A little boy presses through the door followed by his little sister. He holds my dinner at an 18-degree angle. "Here's your first course, Daddy." Toast and butter never tasted better. A few minutes later he brings me my "final course," sneezes on it, then takes his little sister by the hand and walks quietly out of the room. The whole thing is obviously choreographed by their mother.

Life with small children is full of moments like that. Moments that make us realize that we are part of a far bigger picture than our own little world. And although I may not be able to tell Sally Jesse Raphael or Larry King about the moments that have changed my life forever, none seems more important right now than the memory of a hot May day in 1986 when I first gazed into the eyes of my son. I had seen other babies. They were wrinkled and purple. But this baby was—well—wrinkled and purple, too … but truly beautiful. This was my son, Stephen.

We had prayed for this boy. And God answered with the first of three children, gifts that grow more precious each day. What could be more exciting than watching him grow? Teaching him to ice skate? Showing him how to catch a ball? Or watching him smack a line drive just over my head? How do you put a price tag on the joy I felt the day he suddenly stopped in the midst of a wrestling match, wrapped his arms around my neck and whispered, "I love you, Daddy."

"Lord, thank you for the privilege of parenthood," I pray. "For these three gifts you have entrusted us with. I give them to you again. Soon these halls will echo only with the memory of their laughter. Help us to make the most of each moment and point them to you each day."

By the way, the flu is gone now. Is seems that I passed it on to my wife, and I just sent her dinner—in the hands of a three-year-old.

Phil Callaway, editor of Servant magazine, is a popular speaker and author of a dozen books including Who Put the World on Fast Forward and I Used To Have Answers, Now I Have Kids (Harvest House). His web site is: For details about Phil's first novel Growing Up On the Edge of the World click here:

Originally published in Faith & Friends, March 2003.




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