Through our four children, mercy breaks like waves upon Annette and me. They delight us. All in their twenties now, each possess unique gifts and strengths—Greg’s kindness, Nick’s astute analysis, Kate’s perseverance and lack of pretense, Sam’s integrity. All four remind us daily of the gift God gave us in each one, each the fruit of our marital love.
For us, the family is all ‘gift’, each child a sign and a wonder. In each, we marvel at the mercy of God towards us.
Our children are a direct result of God’s saving love to Annette and I. Were it not for His restoring love, they would not exist!
In this season, we are not without regrets. We have wondered: Have we made decisions in service to God that demanded too much? I have travelled extensively throughout most of our married life. As I globe-trotted, Annette had to compensate for my absence. Amazingly. Yet her single parenting skills, and my phone calls and homecoming gifts, did not close the gaps.
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Conceiving a child is easy; raising a child is hard work. Over the course of his or her development, a child demands the attentiveness of two caregivers with complementary vision and gifts.
Annette and I are different in the way we view our kids. My view is essentially masculine: I tend toward wanting to release my kids to the adventure of life and to let them face the consequences, good and bad. Annette wants to shelter them from the cold of the negative consequences; her relational strengths here require the complement of my objectivity.
She is the open-ended one with the kids; they like her more, and readily draw from her deep well of wisdom and kindness. I tend to provoke the kids a bit more, to generate movement and bring closure where it is needed. They probably respect me more than they like me.
I don’t know how we could have raised four young adults without the other. Parenting is complicated. Each kid is different: diverse strengths and weaknesses, subject to their own unique temptations. To give a child his/her due requires the whole image—human parent as male and female.
My mother recounted a car wreck my older brother got in, which involved a stubborn old man who refused to settle the damages. My brother’s repeated phone calls were pointless. She marveled at my father who simply got the man’s address, drove to his home, and quietly reasoned with him until they agreed upon a price. She realized then how fortunate she was to partner with this other!
Similarly, I marvel at Annette’s capacity to enter unselfishly into the unique worlds of each of my children. She informs the decisions we make together about them with sensitivity and an awareness that I do not have.
We refine each other as parents; in our differences, we hold each other accountable to the children’s best interests. Annette tends to sensitize me to their needs; I tend to help Annette release the kids to assume necessary responsibility.
David Blankenhorn writes: “Marriage says to a child: The man and woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and father, accountable to the child and to each other.”
Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.
”Father, thank you for the different ways that men and women approach parenting. Thank you that marriage supports and unifies those differences for the good of the child.”