As parents, we are bestowed the most mammoth responsibility when we give birth to a baby or adopt a child. We are essentially assuming the charge of another soul’s life. We are entrusted by God to take care of the most innocent of creatures, a helpless infant or an unquestioning child. This duty can be a glorious role or an albatross to the inexperienced parent. And despite all the years of babysitting, teaching kids piano lessons, mentoring young children and PEDIATRICS residency, nothing can fully prepare a first-time parent for the enormity of parenthood, most certainly including myself.
One of my greatest fears is the consequences of the active and passive decisions I make for my children. These decisions sometimes can seem like a kaleidoscope. To decide one plan may lead to an entirely different result. Sometimes my choices are knotty: to decide to reward when it is better to discipline, to love in lieu of admonishment, to advocate instead of discourage.
I have wondered if a wrong decision I have made will shape my child’s personality in an irreparable way. This week we decided to change schools for our two older boys. We are transferring them from a safe, dependable, loving school to an untried but equally excellent school that may provide better opportunities and challenges for our boys. Will this change in schools alter the previous destiny plotted out for them? Will my oldest son never encounter that teacher who would have inspired him to be a scientist or physician or writer? Will my younger son meet a friend at his new school that will be the buttress of loyalty for a lifetime?
In my careful reflection, I realize I may never truly know the true effects of the choices I make for my children and the outcome determined simply by chance. I also acknowledge this decision can be Lilliputian compared to the prodigious decisions made by parents who have a critically ill child. Many parents of cancer patients may need to pore through numerous clinical trials and ultimately decide on a course of medical treatment that may determine the earthly fate of their child. The strength and resilience of those parents are my true paradigms. Fundamentally, I think any devoted parent’s penultimate goal is to thirst for the happiness and health of their precious beloved children.