Honor your father and mother that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the land. – Ephesians 6:2-3 (ESV)
In many ways, there is very little difference between putting kids to bed at night as a parent or a grandparent. They resist. They need another drink of water. They have to go to the bathroom, again. They bargain: “One more story, just one more story?” They can’t stand the idea of separating from you or each other or the day—and so they rage against the dying of the light with all the cunning they can muster.
Both parents and grandparents can be equally “good” or “bad” at their jobs in the bedtime routine. Either can be accused by a child—with the fire of a fundamentalist preacher—of reading the story wrong. Either can be able to love and enjoy a child. Likewise, a child can be able to love or not in return, at any given moment.
Love is not a parent’s or grandparent’s projection on the child: Love is love is love. It means that you fundamentally enjoy the child as unconditionally as you know how to do. You are not unconditional all the time. Unconditionality has conditions when it comes to humans. Thank God for God. Thank God that God is more than uninterested in how good or bad we are.
God honors us, and lets us live really long in the land of bedtime and more.
You, who are the best Parent, parent us to parent well.
Donna Schaper contributed this devotional (edited for length) to Hard and Holy: Devotions for Parenting, a collection of spiritual encouragement and practical solidarity and messy joy. Order Hard and Holy here.