By Roger Kruse
I began my role as a new dad in 1984. Our first son was born in Indonesia, where we lived and served in ministry on the island of Java. I remember the first night we brought him home. It was long and noisy. I kept thinking that the neighbors were well aware that Roger and Glenda had a new baby. In total, my wife and I have raised four sons and a daughter. I was 45 years old when the final one arrived on the scene. This parenting thing seems to have gone on for quite a while. Of course, the joys, as well as the challenges, have been many. Each of our children is different and has their own unique characteristics. As a parent, it helps to be a “student” of your kids. In other words, try to understand how God made them. What makes them tick? What do they like to do? What unique gifts have they been endowed with and how can they be developed? What do they fear or struggle with? What help do they need to overcome those issues?
I was more the disciplinarian in our home., but my wife and I both learned the importance of teaching the word “no”. When it comes to raising children, parents need to have a backbone; that is, there needs to be consequences for willful, disobedient behavior. Of course, not many people use corporal punishment anymore. Nevertheless, discipline can take other forms. Unfortunately, tolerance seems to be the preferred strategy these days. We do our kids no favor when we cave in to their whiny ways, allowing them to manipulate circumstances with persistent disobedience. On the flip side, we need to remember that kids thrive on encouragement. It’s important to think in terms of reinforcing the good and rewarding the right choices they make.
Now that our children are all adults, my more direct role as a parent comes less in to play. My wife and I respect the choices they make, even if we don’t always agree. If they ask for input or advice, then we can share our thoughts. I pray quite often for my adult children. I ask God to give them wisdom, as well as a faith that recognizes how much they need the Lord’s input and help. The Bible is filled with truth and valuable lessons that will guide us down the path of blessing. May they have the needed wisdom to know and apply God’s Word.
Now that the grandchildren are arriving on the scene, I have a new role. As a grandpa, it is my privilege to love these precious kids. Every child needs to know they are special and much loved. I like to read books to them or get down on the floor and have fun. A ride on Grandpa’s tractor is always a hit. It is a joy to help them discover new skills or learn lessons about the amazing world God has placed them in. I want my example to point them to the Lord who created them and the Savior who promises to be the Good Shepherd to them.
As a dad or a grandpa, our kids and grandkids learn the most from our example. Our words are important, but our character and our actions will never be forgotten. May God help us dads to make the most of the opportunities we have to inspire and equip the generations that will follow in our footsteps.
Roger Kruse was never a perfect father. Mistakes were made and opportunities lost. However, humility is always an appropriate posture as we teach and guide our children. Sometimes the best remembered lessons are how we responded to our own failures.