What does long-distance swimming have in common with parenting? As it turns out, a lot. We’re all familiar with the adventurous breed of athletes who feel compelled to test their strength, endurance, and skill by competing in what has come to be known as “extreme sports.” But it’s really nothing new. People have been challenging themselves against the elements for years.
Some of the most famous accomplishments of the last century involved long-distance swimmers conquering the open waters of the English Channel, 23 miles wide at its narrowest point. A distance of this length can take as many as eight to ten hours when the conditions are good and an astounding twenty hours or more if the weather deteriorates! Facing wind, cold, darkness, and buffeting waves, a swimmer’s trajectory is never in a straight line, and the distance covered can dramatically increase. They must constantly change their strategy, make course corrections every few strokes, and routinely evaluate existing conditions.
Sounds a lot like parenting, doesn’t it? Even for believers, raising children rarely happens in a straight line, especially when it feels as though we’re being buffeted by a culture threatening to knock our family off course. It can certainly be a daunting challenge. And that’s why strong parenting requires routine adjustments in light of a child’s development and maturity. We may need to tweak our approach as the child’s school environment changes, their social values blossom, or in response to the ever-changing influences of the entertainment world. And through it all, turn to God and ask for His help and wisdom.
For a daily dose of encouragement and perspective, check out Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, at JimDalyBlog.com.