Holding hands with a toddler isn't hard. It isn't tricky. In fact, we just naturally want to grasp onto those soft, pudgy, little fingers and hold on tight. Our teen and young adult children are a different story. As parents , it is our job to successfully raise those ankle biters to adulthood with both their minds and ours in tact.....not always an easy task.

The truth is that kids raised in the exact same family under the same roof often take very different paths. One child may be compliant, cooperative, and very pleasant while another resembles the Tazmanian devil most of the time. The obedient child simply makes parenting a pleasure while the rebellious one can have mom and dad asking themselves if they can make it through another day.

For the parents reading this...ever been there ?

If your head is nodding up and down right now, you are not alone and I have some advice for you.

NEVER GIVE UP !

This does not mean that we don't draw lines or that we don't discipline. We absolutely must. However inwardly, we must never throw in that towel, never lose hope. There are plenty of times where we feel like doing so, yet parental love prevents us from making that tragic mistake. Just as God loves us unconditionally, never writing us off as his children, we as parents need to mirror that kind of love to our own kids. It can make all the difference if we do.

I am baffled at parents who have what I call the " eighteen mentality." These are the folks who feel that once that offspring reaches eighteen years old, they are on their own. Really ? Where does it say that eighteen is the magic age of maturity where a person automatically understands this world, all of it's pitfalls and how to navigate through them ? My experience as a parent has taught me the opposite. The most dangerous time period in your child's life is the eighteen - twenty-four age period. Let's face it...this is the time where poor decisions can have long term effects. Being at the wrong party, hanging out with the wrong crowd, being in the wrong car , getting in a romantic relationship with the wrong person...all of these scenarios can be disastrous in your child's life. It is our job to help steer our young adult children from those potential disasters in every way possible.

The best way is by never giving up. No matter how discouraging, how frustrating, how disappointing your child has been, don't throw that towel in. Keep praying, keep believing, keep hoping. If you don't, who will ? Absolutely nobody..because that young adult is your grown baby and no one loves them as you do.....no one.

I have often heard the expression that our children are our heart beat. I agree with that one hundred percent. After all, when we are dead and gone on to eternity, what are we leaving behind ? We are leaving behind a memory, a reptuation, but to me, leaving behind living, breathing souls who we have helped to mold and shape is our most profound legacy. These are the individuals who will continue to have an impact on this world and this life here on earth. Much of what they do after we have been laid in a cemetery will have our imprint on it. That is an arresting thought to me because it means that I want to do this parenting thing right. I don't want to blow it. I want to make sure that each of our four kids knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that we never gave up on them. We just kept believing.

Parenting is definitley not for the faint of heart. It is for those with marathon type endurance. Keep running, keep striving, keep that heart beating with hope. If you do, you will stay strong and will some day complete the race. When you do, you will look back and see that it is now your child's turn to take the torch and begin their own journey called parenthood. At that time, you can then become the spectator in the stands and that is more fun than words can say. Until that time though, keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't quit no matter what. Have stamina and show it.

It will be worth it at the finish line :)