A few years ago I led a parenting enrichment study at my church. In it, Dr. Kevin Leman taught that toddlers respond to a parent differently that we might expect. For example, if you want a toddler to come to you, you should move away from him. He’ll follow you if you move away. If you moved toward him, he’ll run away.
Of course, it’s one thing to hear someone say that – even if that someone is a parenting expert like Dr. Leman. I did have to try it out before I would really believe it.
And it turned out to be pretty much true!
Now, I’m a long way from being a father to a toddler. Still, I was thinking about this the other day as I was sitting in the gym of my son’s soon-to-be former high school. He was graduating and my wife and I were very proud of him!
We were sitting behind him and the only view of him was this one until he actually received his diploma.
It was fitting that we were sitting behind him, looking at the back of his head. He was literally moving away from us. He just turned 18 years old. He’s heading off to college in August. He’s becoming a man. He’ll always be our son, but he’s also becoming his own man now. My wife and I did the best we could in raising him. But those days are pretty much over now. The choices he makes as he moves away from us are his to make and his to live with.
This picture was taken after my wife was able to make her way to the front of the gym. She had to move in front of him, at least a little bit, to take it and it is a metaphor of our life now. We will have to move, to make strides, to go out of our way to get in front of him now. But we will do what it takes to let him know that he’s never alone. As much as in us lies, we’ll be there for him.
We spent the last 18 years telling our son about Jesus. We took him to church. Studied the Bible and Small Catechism with him. We modeled the best Christian life that we could – a life not lived perfectly but lived in the forgiveness and mercy of God.
Even though he’s going off on his own, only to return to do laundry, get something to eat, or tell us about a life-changing event, he will always be our little boy that we took home from the hospital so long ago. We were more than a little scared then, just as we are now. But my wife and I are also filled with just as much love, more so even, we had then.
For me, what could be a better Father’s day present?