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There's a pervasive problem in the special needs parenting community. It is happening everywhere. I talk to my colleagues, so I know others are observing it.
This is what is taking place: Parents get to the point where their children reach adulthood, learn to cope with their chronic illness, or get situated in a group home, then the parents decide it's time for them to check out. They walk away from the special needs community and never look back. They figure that they have more than paid their dues, and it's their turn to coast to life's finish line.
Where in God's word does it ever say that we get to spend the final three decades of our lives doing nothing but focusing on our own pleasure?
What parents like this don't know is that they are throwing away a lifetime of purpose that God has poured into them. Each of these mothers, fathers, and even grandparents are a treasure trove of practical, spiritual, and emotional experience. The Lord has fit them with specific experiences and personal stories that can be used to assist and encourage younger parents coming up the ranks behind them.
Of course, being passionate about mentoring, I can assure you that there are never enough mentors available to lead, guide, and reassure parents following in their footsteps.
It is to our own detriment when we decide to put our feet up and let our younger peers figure life out on their own. Our entitled apathy is in direct disobedience to God's mandate to teach the next generation.
Don't get me wrong. It is absolutely wonderful to relax and enjoy life as a couple when our kids are beyond the stage of acute caregiving. We do have make-up work to do in learning how to relax and savor life apart from the serious role we have fulfilled for a large portion of our lives.
However, if we use only a small portion of the extra time that opens to us when our caregiving is done, the yield to God's kingdom can be exponential. As an example, just an hour a week for a five week period can turn a fellow parent's life in a positive direction for the remainder of their parenting journey. This is such a tiny investment to make a difference for a lifetime!
Which of us would not want to get to the end of life's road and know that what we did mattered? Who of us doesn't spend days where we want to have value beyond just the ugly, thankless parts of parenthood? God has given us that opportunity, if only we will take it.
PRAY: Magnificent Maker, remind us that we are blessed to be a blessing. Help us to get over ourselves and to give back to others. Thank You for continuing to redeem our trials by using them to grow others as well as ourselves.
~ Barb Dittrich