If you have children, you may wonder some days if your responsibility for them will ever end. The truth of the matter is that it never does because the decisions you make today as parents could affect your family for generations to come and to infinity and beyond. Although there are many ways in which your role as a parent changes, it’s a lifelong obligation. Just because your kids move out of the house doesn’t mean you stop being a parent. You will still think about them or focus on them, especially if they are experiencing difficulties, but you will parent more from a distance.
As your kids get older, your capacity as a parent hopefully changes from a hands-on advocate to a trusted advisor. Regardless of the function you are in, you will always be one of the primary role models for your children. Kids pay far more attention to what their parents do than what they say. It is a big responsibility but I believe we are all up for the challenge if we carefully consider each of our decisions and the lasting impact they may have upon our children’s lives.
Decisions we make regarding the environment, state and local government or about situations in our own home, could resonate positively or negatively for our children when they reach adulthood. We simply can’t rely on the notion that everything will just take care of itself. We have to take action in some cases to ensure a bright future for the young ones we leave behind. That can be difficult in a society that promotes individualism and self-gratification. We need to fight off those forces of selfishness and begin to look at how the choices
we make today will affect our families ten, twenty or even fifty years down the road.
For example, when a couple with children makes a decision to divorce, it changes the landscape of their children’s and future grandchildren’s lives forever. That’s probably not what a couple is thinking about at the time. They are seeking immediate relief from their present turmoil, but as parents it’s our responsibility to also consider others with whom we have influence.
I was talking to a woman recently who agreed with that statement. She got divorced more than 12 years ago but she remembers how self-absorbed she was at that time. She certainly thought a lot about her two children when she was contemplating her decision, but just imagined she and her husband would easily work things out and be good friends while sharing the responsibility of raising the kids. She now believes that thinking was ludicrous. Even though she and her former husband have a good relationship, she sees how her kids suffer the consequences. She told me it is not natural and will never feel normal to not be with her kids around the clock.
Even simple decisions about recycling paper and plastic, walking or riding a bike more than driving, or conserving energy by unplugging appliances at night can impact the world in which our children will live. All of these considerations could be viewed as an inconvenience to parents today, but we need to re-adjust our thinking to focus on doing what is right to make things better for generations to come. If we work hard today to win at home, we can positively impact our families now and to infinity and beyond.