Friday, May 29, 2015

3 Ways Teaching and Parenting Give Perspective to Each Other

Rachael Alexandra Photography

The world changed this week. My youngest child graduated from college, got married, and moved across the country. 

Do I feel old? A little. Sad? A little. Empty-nestish? Definitely. But underneath it all, I feel a sense of completion. It feels a lot like the end of every school year, when students move on from my class. There are always a few regrets and failures. But mostly, students have learned what I had to teach them, and they’re prepared for the next step. 

It feels bittersweet like that, but more intensely.

All the preparation leading up to the wedding seemed surreal—my baby, getting married? But oddly, as soon as the groom’s parents and my husband and I gave our blessing to our kids and our kids to each other, and sat down, it suddenly felt so right, seeing them together there, pledging before God their lives and love to each other. 

They were both radiant. My dad officiated, a sibling of each witnessed, high school and college classmates stood up with them, and joining the celebration were relatives (blood and surrogate), members from the church the pair had immersed themselves in all four college years, a professor, a student from the class my daughter student taught…. These two are pointed toward God, woven into community; they’ll continue the pattern in the place they are going. They are ready. 

I’ve always felt that teaching prepared me for parenting and parenting prepared me for teaching. When I felt frustrated or inadequate in one sphere, I could draw perspective from the other. There are three main parts to that perspective:
  • Children grow up. Whatever phase or immaturity they are going through, it will most likely pass. Pay attention. Guide. Know and use best practice. But don’t stress unduly. 
  • Love, structure, and freedom—kids flourish with the right combination. What’s the right combination? It differs from child to child, from day to day. Then how can one possibly get it right? Not possible. But we can improve the percentages. Know the children—the needs, experiences, and gifts each comes with. Learn and collaborate with colleagues to keep growing in teaching practice. And stay rooted in God the source of love, Jesus the example of love, and the Holy Spirit the power for love, praying without ceasing for wisdom and for the needs you know.
  • Keep the end in mind. The big end. Like my daughter and her new husband heading off into the world to love and serve God and their neighbors with the help of each other and the communities they will find, changing the world from their classrooms, one child at a time.

It’s been a delight to be a part of this particular child’s journey toward adulthood. It’s been a delight to see all the other people who have also contributed to that growth—teachers, relatives, classmates, community members, professors, students. It’s a delight to know that I have the opportunity to be that kind of contributor to every student who comes into my classroom, and to know that each of those students will go on to contribute to others, as the dance of learning, living, and loving goes on.

Shall we dance?

P.S. Remembering that every ending is just another beginning. This set of wedding guests gave us all another goal.


  1. The greatest lesson I have learned as a parent (and which I keep forgetting and have to re-learn) is that I am not responsible or in control of anything. God has chosen me for my children because even my mistakes and frailties are important parts of their learning--and what I would have called a "blessing" has turned out to be a challenge, while the biggest "mistakes" have turned into the most astonishing blessings in the end. As God weaves a tapestry out of all of our lives, I am seeing it from underneath, where the threads are uneven and the pattern is not apparent. When I look back, I see the pattern emerging beautifully and in the right proportions--and if I can let go, then I may be able to glimpse the whole even as it is unfolding. Thanks for reminding me that we are all working together on the masterpiece which is each individual life and all of our lives together at the same time.

    1. Kaye--Thanks for your thoughtful response--beautifully said. Blessings on your piece of the masterpiece!