News flash: You can't use a 3/8 socket wrench to tighten a metric nut; can't get a flat head screw out of a piece of wood with a Philips; can't route with a drill, drill with a saw, saw with a kitchen knife, or sink a drywall anchor into a cement-block wall - no matter how hard you hit it! I know, because I have personally tried most of those ill-fated ideas. I have also tried to make omelets in a saucepan, filter coffee through a paper-towel, broil meat on a cookie sheet, and steam broccoli using a colander over a frying pan (that one didn't turn out too badly, considering).
It's the same way with our approach to family life. We can't begin to do a solid job of raising children, and being the right kind of parents, if we don't have the right tools at our disposal. The good news is that these tools don't cost a dime. Of course, the flip side of the coin is the fact that they aren't cheap, either. Being the right kind of parent is a costly business, it just doesn't happen to be all about the dollars and cents kind of expenditure.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could walk into SEARS, or Sharper Image, and pick up a handful of gadgets that would make the task of raising our children a little easier, or at least straightforward. Wouldn't it be sweet if successful child rearing was as simple as watching a late night infomercial, dialing a toll-free number, and making three easy payments on our credit card. Just imagine the anticipation of unwrapping that package when it came in the mail; three to six days for delivery, offer not valid outside the United States and its territories, void where prohibited by law.
I believe that we quite often make the business of raising children a lot more complicated than it is intended to be. Essentially, I feel that is all boils down to us; what we chose to do, who we chose to be, and how we transfer our convictions to the people we love. When we can answer those questions, honestly and sincerely, then we are well on the way to raising children who will be equally secure when it comes time to answer the same questions for themselves.
Some people asked Jesus what was the most important thing to remember, and in his answer he reduced a couple of thousand years of complex code to: "Love God completely, and love your neighbor as yourself." Understanding what is essential is the fundamental tool for effective parenting. Just a few basic tools, the right ones for the job, that is all we really need.
"Love God completely." Let's make that the starting place for loving our family the same way.
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