Two years ago we were experiencing one of those times—a period of time in which one child, Cami our third child and second daughter, required an inordinate amount of time and attention. She was beginning a relationship and eventual engagement to a young man who now is her husband of one year. We weren’t new to this time squeezing—we had already married our oldest (a son) three years prior to this, and had many months of intensive time spent with older teens in planning for their futures.
Every evening seemed to be taken up with this relationship—Mom with Cami; Dad with Cami; Dad with Joseph (now our son-in-law); Mom, Dad, Cami, and Joseph. And the “little boys” decided that enough was enough. Finally, the then-twelve-year-old came up with a plan: “I know how to get more of Mom and Dad’s attention. I’m gonna get a girlfriend!” We assured him that, that would, indeed, get him attention—though it probably wasn’t the kind of attention that he wanted!
We have found in our parenting that there are definite times and seasons (and these will vary child-by-child, gender-to-gender, and in other ways) in which we just need to set aside unusual amounts of time to tend to a child’s social, emotional, and spiritual needs. And preparing for marriage is certainly one of those times!
Of course, we all recognize this as a general concept. Case in point: I was either nursing, pregnant, or both for fourteen years out of a seventeen year period. Now that’s a lot of time meeting needs! But there are many others—newborn babies take a lot of time feeding and diapering; toddling toddlers must be under nearly constant watchful supervision; pre-teens must be observed closely for those days of hurt emotions; teens need Mom and Dad extensively to help them prepare for their futures. And we have found that young adults need their parents more than ever.
We have always felt that to follow the “fairness” model of parenting—same number of presents per child at Christmas, same amount of money each birthday, same amount of time devoted to needs, etc. could cause us to potentially miss out on some “biggies.” It has been our experience that we need to discern our kids’ needs carefully—and be ready to give whatever it takes to meet them, even if it seems unbalanced at times.
We encourage parents to oversee their kids carefully, paying special attention to relationships, emotions, spiritual peaks and valleys, and more. Be ready to put other things on the back burner in order to meet needs as they arise.