Your letter was beautifully written and speaks powerfully to the struggles and challenges that parents face. It seems to me that the years past 'bending over the bathtub bathing little people, diapers, highchairs, and breastfeeding' present the greatest challenges in parenting. However they also present the greatest rewards. Young adults are just that...young adults. They are adults in training and formation. I consider myself still in training and formation and were you to ask my dear parents they would most assuredly tell you that I have a lot to learn. Praise God for the wisdom and insights of my dear parents and I pray that I am humble enough to learn from their holy witness today and always.
I think that each new mom and dad should be given a special sign or button upon the delivery of their first born. CAUTION: FAMILY IN FORMATION. EXPECT DELAYS AND SETBACKS. PROCEED CAREFULLY AND WITH PRAYER. I have children that are grown (according to the physical nature of that term) and others who have some growing yet to do. You are right, some children present delays and setbacks early on and others may wait until later. However it is important to keep uppermost in our minds and hearts, that Jesus considers each person in formation until that time that they are purified and brought to their Heaven home. As we say in the South, 'It ain't over until its over'. That is actually a wonderful mercy and blessing from the Lord. I look back to the days that I was in my early 20s and I am amazed and awed by the great mercy of Jesus that He worked with me so tenderly and patiently to get me to this point. I am grateful that there is not a movie of my life in circulation.
Worry is the Tempter's best and most effective tool. It does age us and it tools us up for disaster. We race toward the finish line of a situation with our hearts pounding and our imaginations in full throttle. We imagine the worst and we expect the worse. We find our prayers are exhausting and our spirits are weary. Our prayers are lamentations that serve to tire our resolve and give us little comfort. It is not easy to do but it is vitally important that we turn situations that are beyond our control over to the Lord. Yet as hard as we want to be rid of the pain and anguish of a situation (you would think that we would turn it over to God faster than passing a hot coal) we cling to each anxiety as if that anxiety is a true and warranted fact. If I sound like I have been through this, I have many times. I am not answering these questions because my husband and I are perfect parents. Quite the contrary. We are exactly like you and your husband filled with all the same doubts and concerns. I for one am relieved that God in His tender mercy did not call the 'perfect parents' to parent our children because if He had done so, I would not have made the first cut. We would not have the great joy of being parents to these lovely children.
You and your dear husband are the best parents for the children that the Lord has given you. Jesus did not choose you to be the parents because you are perfect or because you will raise perfect children. No. Jesus hand picked you from all others because Jesus in His great love and overwhelming desire that each person created come to Heaven knew you and your husband would be the best for the task. Jesus knew the challenges that you would face each day. Jesus allows those challenges in order to show His power in all situations. Jesus knew that despite the setbacks and delays in maturity etc. you would stick to the task. Prayer is the parent's weapon. Prayer moves the heart of God. Prayer is the tool of God. Jesus knew that you would pray, pray, pray. Jesus knew that you would not stop praying, interceding, pleading, working, preparing, talking, and doing all that is necessary in parenting. Jesus knew that when He calls you and your husband home, you would continue your prayers and intercession for your children, grandchildren, and so on and so on. Humans are worth the prayer. Humans are made in God's image and likeness. We have a share in the glory of Heaven. We will live in eternity. Our life on earth is temporal and short, because the wonder of our glorified body and life in eternity with God is why we were created.
Proverbs 22:6: 'Train up a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.'
Now that scripture is very important. What it says is powerful but what it does not say is even more powerful. Think: it says that a child will not swerve from the path. Praise God. But.......it doesn't say that he won't fall on the path along the way. What happens to us when we fall on the path is more important than we can imagine. We are all going to fall. Will there be those who will pray for us, lift us up, teach us, admonish us, guide us, encourage us, and so on? In God's mercy there will be those persons who will be there for us. The task of parents is to pray for their children and to pray for the guidance that is of the Lord to deal with the times that children will fall.
Imagine that one of your dear children was deathly ill. Would you abandon them because they are sick? Of course not. We as parents have got to get away from thoughts that niggle us into thinking that moral behavior etc. is somehow not worthy of our concern or care. Some will call it 'tough love'. I do not like that term. It makes me itchy. How can I love my child in a tough way? I prefer thinking instead of loving and guiding my child with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes through prayer we are called to a course of action that necessitates interventions that are meant to change behaviors or stop abuse. This takes 'courageous love'. Courageous love is the love that makes no earthly sense at all. This is the type of love that Jesus showed from Calvary when He gave His life for the sins of those He loved.
Go forward into parenting. Accept the power that is available through the great Sacrament of Matrimony. Drink in the well-spring of graces that this sacrament affords you and your husband. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament and allow the sweet Jesus to speak to you and guide your parenting efforts. Accept the challenge of parenting with a grateful spirit (this takes the wind out of the Tempter's sail faster than anything). Trust in the Lord's great desire to guide and empower you and your husband every step of the way. Remember that anything that the Lord asks us to do, He will empower us to do according to His will if we but ask for the grace to do so.
I admire you very much. You and your dear husband are holy witnesses of parenting and all that loving a child means. Hang in there and do not let anyone tell you that you are not worthy. Jesus has made you worthy because He has called you to this task.
Let us pray together a Hail Mary for all those young adults whose parents have decided that arguments, discussion, confrontations, and misunderstandings are not worth the trouble. These poor and neglected young people are living a life of want and sorrow. Lord, we love You and long to see Your face. Amen.
Sending out a prayer,