I love road trips. There is something so fun about jumping in the car with only a bit of luggage and no real plans, just a destination. It seems that the most interesting things that happen are often those that are unplanned or spur-of-the-moment; while the best laid plans can be thwarted in no time. This sounds a bit like parenting too, right?
I sometimes plan things for my kids that sound like so much fun, like a trip to a museum or historical site. What do they want? Probably something much more simple like going to the park or getting ice cream. Sometimes I am tempted to push through and “make it fun” but there is often a compromise made so we can find a little common ground. What they want to do may not be on the agenda or a place we planned on stopping, but it can be the answer to a great time for everyone.
I am the planner in the family so after the family has chosen the destination, it is my job to plan all the details. I am not in the habit of over planning our schedule but I do desire for us to feel prepared for our adventure. This feels so much like the line we learn to walk with our kids as they grow and change. We know what we want the end result to look like but we don’t want to micro-manage our kids to death. They need to learn to fall and get back up, make hard choices and find out what their adventure and path in life is meant to be. We can get them ready but it isn’t wise for us to attempt to make every choice for them.
Some of the best road trips we have taken are ones that included lots of stops where we were not rushed. We love surprises on the route that beg you to stop and explore. We like national parks, hiking and camping. There is nothing better than knowing there is time to see all of God’s creations without running at full speed to try and squeeze it all in. There is so much beauty in admiring the perfection of nature and the one who made it all. This includes how we should strive to see our kids. We should study their character and help them understand that they are also God’s perfect creation. As hard as it can be, it is often wisest to help our kids live a life that is not rushed but full of time to find out who God made them to be.
Parenting is an adventure. We may know our final destination but we can never guess how many flat tires or pit stops we will encounter on the way. We have a map but there is no app that provides directions on how to get the kids to stop screaming at each other in the back seat. There isn’t an app that teaches you how to make them giggle and sing silly songs together either, but in the end, the trip itself can be enjoyable and unexpected. Maybe we can all try to remember that as important as our destination is, getting there really can be the half the fun!