Some time ago, I saw a man and his young song walking along Broadway Street in downtown Nashville. I witnessed a great lesson in parenting … leading with love, standing side-by-side, and pressing forward.
The extraordinary thing about this event was that the young boy was blind. It appeared to have been a recent condition because the father was trying to teach his son how to navigate with a walking stick. As exhibited by this father, parenting involves the following:
- Leading with love is about reaching the heart of your child. Too often I get caught up in the outward behavior of my children and forget about the inward heart. I’m learning that if I reach the heart my children, and teach them the lesson that will be forever pressed in their soul, then their “good behavior” will follow. This father did not waste any time, energy and frustration just to get his son to walk straight and avoid objects like street signs and benches. He was focused on his son’s challenges and building his heart and esteem to face those challenges.
- Standing side-by-side is right where your kids need you to be. For this father helping his blind son to walk … there he stood right by his son’s side. Leading him … hand to arm … arm to hand … down the street. Then the father would let go, while continuing to walk by his side. As parents, we need to not only stand beside our children, we need to get down on their level and talk to them eye-to-eye. I mean this literally and figuratively. Literally, our kids need to see our eyes when we talk to them (and particularly when we talk about life issues). Figuratively, they need to know we understand what they are saying. For instance, if your young man is excited about his green bean, pickle, and peanut butter “Alien Sandwich” … then so should you.
- Pressing forward means we must continually grow. In life, our children will be challenged to accept mediocrity, the norm, or the worldly standard of what is considered “right.” As parents, we have to push, press, encourage and in some instances force them to reach for excellence. Notice I did not say, perfection, but excellence. We must not get caught up in the mistakes we have made in the past. Press forward in all things.
As I watched this father lead his blind son along a busy street in downtown Nashville, I wondered truly about the father’s resolve and the son’s reliance. Certainly, this man could have bullied his son to use or rely on that walking stick. But that is not what I witnessed. And the son, at some point in this experience, ultimately had to come to the realization that he was going to rely on his father’s leading.
Question: Are you leading your children in love, side-by-side, pressing forward?