The Process of Parenting: Equipping
I will never forget the thrill of riding a bike without training wheels for the first time, the wonder of driving a tractor for the first time as a young teenager, or the adventure of shooting my shotgun for the first time. Don’t you have a special vault of memories from when you first used or mastered some new and challenging piece of equipment? It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment and confidence. “Bring on the world – I can handle it!”
Our kids are longing for these experiences of handling new tools to meet new challenges. And while I hope your children are blessed with other adults who are investing in their lives and helping to equip them for life, it primarily falls on you, their parents, to equip them well. You have probably heard it said that if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Having the right tool for the right job makes life so much better and far less frustrating.
Sometimes this means being sure our kids have the physical equipment they need to face the upcoming challenges of life. Teaching my son which tools to use and how to use them while working on my sinks and countertops was another important step in a long ongoing series of lessons regarding manual tools. And he has already learned Dad’s favorite tool – the vise grip (small, medium, large, or needle-nose, thanks very much!). When he is out of our house, and on his own, I want him to be able to handle working on projects and fixing things while saving money wherever possible. He’ll be glad I equipped him for that.
There are many other times, however, when the new equipment our children and teens need from us is not an item we can buy at the store. Rather, it is a practical, social, mental, emotional, or spiritual tool that we must introduce and demonstrate to them at a time when they will soon be needing it. And just as we know that simply explaining to a child how a power tool is used is not sufficient to equip them, so we must remember to go beyond telling them about important life skills. They need to see us using them.
I have learned that prayer is one of my most valuable tools when tackling a challenging home project of some kind. Praying before I start, and anytime I hit a frustration point, helps me to handle the whole thing with far greater patience and precision – and with less words popping out of my mouth that I don’t want to hear coming from my son later. I need to teach him this lesson. Learning that prayer is actually a very useful and practical tool God has given us, and not simply a Sunday morning activity, will equip him for so many elements of life here on earth. But if he is truly going to learn this lesson from me, he’s got to see me doing it. Not just hear me telling him to do so. Fully equipping our kids for life situations means sharing the right tools with them, showing them how we use them, and explaining why we use them this way.
My son loves to ride his bike, but really outgrew his “dirt bike” a while back. He had been uncomfortably making the most of it for months, when we finally decided the time has come for some new equipment. And my mother in law graciously blessed him with a sweet new mountain bike. Thank you, Nana! While the large size of his new ride could be a challenge at first, dealing with the hand brakes and all these new gears is the part I thought would most likely intimidate him. So I gave him some basic instructional lessons in the driveway…then went for a ride around the neighborhood with him. I told him anytime I shifted gears, and explained why I did so. If he was intimidated at all, I sure couldn’t tell. Then again, I was pretty busy working to keep up with him as he used his new found powers to challenge the Old Man. Life is good.