Meditations on Parenting, Nurture, and Mission

Months after my father’s death in 1984, my mother wrote: “I am trying to remember how really blessed I am. God has given me so much. He allowed us to take part in His creation of four wonderful children. He gave Alex and I forty-three years and you kids.”

Over the past several years I have often returned to these words as I have meditated on the meaning of being a parent and struggled to be one myself. What are those patterns of meaning to be discerned in our lives as parents? What are we seeking to nurture in ourselves and our children? Is parenting integral to our vocations or missions as human beings? The questions are large and not easily answered, but some initial clues are provided, I believe, by two convictions that emerge from my mother’s words. First, as parents we are co-creators with God in relation to our children. And second, as parents we are not “owners” of children, but stewards of lives given us to watch over, protect, and nurture as gifts to the human community. My mother’s convictions have become my own - though I leave aside her judgment about how “wonderful” her children are – and thus these reflections are grounded not only in a shared faith but also a shared experience as a parent.

Dr. Darrol Bryant