OPINION – In praise of parents, and other nurturers, who labor in love


Pastor, Country Club UMC, Kansas City

With the month of May comes Mother’s Day and then in June comes Father’s Day. Being a parent is perhaps one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities that one can have while on this earth.

Of course, there are many people who nurture us besides our biological parents. So even if you don’t have children you can make a lasting impression and influence in the life of a young person.

In the coming weeks we have the opportunity to give thanks to those who have nurtured us – a biological or adoptive parent, a grandparent, a teacher, or a coach. And to commit ourselves to be a loving and nurturing presence in the life of a young person who looks to us for care and guidance.

In his book, “How, Then Shall We Live?” Wayne Muller tells this story about a loving father:

“Miguel told me about his daughter, how smart she is. Last year, in first grade, she got all A’s on her report card. This year, in second grade, she got many A+’s. His eyes moistened when he told me this. He is so proud.

Being a parent is one of Miguel’s gifts. While he works extremely hard helping many of us get ready for winter by cutting wood all year, the thing that most surely warms his own heart is to see his children do well. He is from Mexico, and he has lived here 12 years. He still speaks English with a thick Spanish accent and is more comfortable with Spanish than with English. ‘But my daughter,’ he says proudly, ‘on her report card it says she reads and writes and speaks perfect Spanish and perfect English.’ This is his legacy. His children will do well.”

This is the gift of many parents, quietly building and preparing so their children will do well. So many gifts unnoticed, decisions made and offered without the children even knowing what was given, or that there was anything given at all. Still, the gift remains, embedded in the lives of countless children who were sent forth with the love of caring parents.

Will you take some time to express your appreciation for those who have nurtured you? A note, a card, a phone call can mean so much to someone who has offered their gifts of kindness, generosity and love.

Then will you commit yourself to offer the gift of nurture and love to your own child or to someone who needs an adult friend? This could be the greatest gift you can give to our hurting and needy world.

Here is one more thing that I have found has helped me as I think about my responsibility of being a parent and nurturer. I do not know who wrote it, but its wisdom speaks volumes to me:

Blessed are those parents who make their peace with spilled milk and mud, for of such is the kingdom of childhood.
Blessed are those parents who refuse to compare their children with others, for precious unto each is the rhythm of his or her own growth.
Blessed are those parents who have learned to laugh, for it is the music of the child’s world.
Blessed are those parents who understand the goodness of time, for they make it not a sword that kills growth but a shield to guide their children.
Blessed are those parents who can say “no” without anger, for comforting to the child is the security of a firm decision.
Blessed are those parents who treat their children consistently, for this makes children secure.
Blessed are those parents who accept the awkwardness of their growing children, letting each child grow at his or her own speed.
Blessed are those parents who are teachable, for knowledge brings understanding, and understanding brings love.
Blessed are those parents who love their children in the midst of a hostile world, for love is the greatest of all gifts.

God bless you as you nurture and receive nurture.


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