A Lesson I Learned In Parenting

Nathan Sheets on the challenges and joys of raising kids.

I brought my first-born son home from the hospital in early January 2000. It was in the middle of winter, and I remember that night was very, very cold. Staring at my small, newborn son in awe, I saw that his lip was moving. I told my wife, “Look! His lip is quivering. He must be freezing.”

Swaddling him up, I turned the heat on in the house, but his lip kept quivering. I sat in a chair all night, a terrified new parent just holding my son, making sure he was okay. The next morning, my mother came over to our house. I told her, “He’s freezing to death—look!”

Then my mother shared, “Nathan, babies’ lips quiver when they’re born.”

As parents, you start out with these tiny little kids, and the whole thing is brand new. As you watch your kids grow up, you start to learn about them, about yourself, and about the journey of parenthood. You learn from the challenges and celebrate the goodness. I feel one of the greatest blessings comes when you begin to identify areas of giftedness that your children have, and you try your best to fan those flames.

My four children are all unique with varying interests and temperaments. Like me, my oldest son loves hunting and fishing and became an eagle scout. My second son is a musician and has no interest in such hobbies. But I try to figure out ways to connect with each of my kids, seeking to find what their individual strengths are and how I can bolster those strengths and encourage them to become their truest selves.

And sometimes I fail at this. But I’m constantly striving to figure out ways to connect with my kids, to build lasting and meaningful relationships with them. I work to build a relationship that can help my children become who they’re meant to be. Because, if you don’t have relationships, then you can’t speak into people’s lives. And what is there beyond connecting with others and doing your best to help them?

Despite my failures as a parent, I believe that there is no greater success than seeing your kids grow up and become the people that God created them to be. Trying to be creative, thoughtful and intentional to build my kids up so they can be successful in life is not only a great challenge, but it’s also a great reward.

I hope that all parents out there know that they are truly blessed to be able to raise children. And remember to stay hopeful, for each challenge there is joy, and each failure means you’re just a bit closer to success.

-Nathan Sheets


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