Harbor: Parenting

We trust that beyond the absence, there is a presence.  That beyond the pain, there can be healing.  That beyond the hurting, there may be forgiveness. That beyond the silence, there may be the Word.  That beyond the Word, there may be Understanding.  That through Understanding there is love.     Gates of Prayer

At my mother’s recent memorial service, I found myself at the podium retelling a story from my childhood.  I had not intended to speak at the service but at my husband’s insistence we went to the front of the chapel at that time in the service when family and friends are encouraged to share their remembrances of the deceased.

The story that flashed into my mind was one from my senior year in high school.  Several students were standing around our English teacher and she asked about our future plans.  The topic of money came up and I said that I had very little in my bank account, having spent most of it on the purchase of my high school ring.  My teacher was aghast that so little stood between me and poverty.  ” Oh no, “I replied “My mother stands between me and poverty.”

Parents can be that first harbor of security we know.  They stand between us and the world, to protect us from and interpret for us, our surroundings.  They give us their love and hopefully, their under-standing; they also give us their fears and shortcomings, because they are a complete package.  As a parent myself, I am plagued in the night by my own list of shortcomings, of the things that I did not do well and cannot do over.  It is a hard lesson to learn, that we will not pass this way again, but I comfort myself with the belief that people are basically good and that parents are trying to do the best they can at any particular moment.

The most difficult lesson a parent needs to learn is when to let go, when to let the ship of their child’s soul sail out under its own power. A good parent helps their child become the person they already are and provides them with the tools needed for the voyage of self-discovery. Perhaps the greatest of these tools are forgiveness and understanding for through them, there is love.

Karen Smith

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