Remembering and Recommitting to Our Parenting Manifesto
“Ok, Dad, we have to run. Do you want to come with the baby to the NICU?”
Not exactly the words a mother wants to hear the very second she pushes her child out. But that’s what our neonatal doctor said to my husband when Abby Grace entered the world 12 years ago. During labor my obstetrician asked us, “Have you ever been told about her erratic heartbeat?” That was the first indication that something was wrong.
After she entered the world her heart went from beating so fast they were afraid she’d have a heart attack to so slow they worried it would stop. I vividly remember a team of NICU doctors and nurses dressed in magenta scrubs racing my newborn baby down the corridors in the old military hospital where she was born in Okinawa, Japan.
As soon as I was allowed, I was wheeled from the labor and delivery room to the NICU. Abby Grace was resting inside a warm, glass dome, connected to a tangle of wires and tubes. While myriad machines beeped around her I looked in and found her eyes wide open. She looked back at me. I cooed and cried and she stared. I prayed to God, “Lord, do not let me fall asleep. Please keep my eyes wide open. If this night is the only one she is going to live, please don’t let me miss even one second of it.”
Every year on and around her birthday, Mark and I recount all the drama of Abby Grace’s delivery and the weeks that followed. We often tear up when we think about how precarious her life seemed in those first days. We laugh when we remember how her two-year-old sister donned a face mask and met her for the first time. We wipe our tears when we think about how her heart finally steadied four weeks after she was born. You’d never know it now.
Kids’ birthdays are poignant times to reflect on what the Lord has done in their lives and in ours, through them. I think it’s universal for parents to remember their babies’ births and to dream about what’s to come. Our kids are all in double digits now, with our youngest having recently turned ten. We’ve exited the stage of babies and toddlers and littles and we’re in the throes of shaping teens and pre-teens, praying that God allows us to launch them according to his good will for their lives.
As such, Mark and I are reviewing the Oshman Parenting Manifesto, which we brainstormed together and he wrote out a few years back. The Manifesto is our commitment to remembering what matters in parenting. We find that so many things in the world aim to capture the hearts of our children and their futures, as well as our efforts as parents. Our goals and desires for our kids can shift with each cultural wind, if we’re not committed to what really matters.
I want to share our Manifesto here, in hopes that it will encourage you as you pursue what’s best for your kids. We owe this to the Word of God and the people of God—both have shaped us and mentored us in our role as mom and dad these last 14 years. We are immeasurably grateful for the parents who have gone before us and discipled us along the way!
Oshman Parenting Manifesto
We believe Jesus is the most valuable treasure in the universe.
Without knowing, worshipping, loving, and pursuing Jesus, life is meaningless (Matthew 7:21-23).
As your parents, God has entrusted us to disciple you and point you toward him (Proverbs 22:6).
Our goal as your parents: To provide opportunity and encouragement for you to know, love, worship, and pursue Jesus.
Our goal as your parents IS NOT...
That you would get a good job and make a lot of money.
That you would get a great education.
That you would be really successful in the world’s eyes.
That you would have all the great stuff of life and Jesus too.
That you would have a great husband, kids, and family.
That life would go smoothly for you or that you would be “happy.”
Our goal as your parents is...
That no matter what you do, you do it in pursuit of Jesus.
If you want to become a doctor, great! - How will that pursuit lead you to a greater experience of Jesus? If you want to wash dishes, great! How will that pursuit lead you to a greater experience of Jesus?
If you want to become a lawyer, or chef, or missionary, mother, etc... how will you make Jesus the center of all of those activities?
How we will pursue this goal:
By providing a home where exercising our faith, prayer, worship, study of God’s Word, repentance, and reconciliation are normal activities for us individually and together.
By continually asking you important questions... like:
How will certain decisions affect your spiritual life?
Who are you going to surround yourself with and how will you affect them and they affect you spiritually?
What does/will worship in that situation/calling/school look like for you?
How are you using your time, talent, and treasure to magnify Christ?
What ways are you currently pursuing Christ?
How does the gospel affect the decision you will make...?
How are you/will you be an active participant in the body of Christ?
What struggles are you currently facing? How can we pray for you in those struggles? Is there anything we can do to help?
“What if I don’t want to follow Jesus?”
We will continue to love you, pray for you, and encourage you toward Christ.
We will not do anything that we feel will contribute to a lifestyle that rejects God.
As you become adults, you will have to make adult decisions.
We will not enable you to sin or live a life that rejects God’s good will for your life.
Originally written and published by Jen Oshman. Used with permission.