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October 10, 1997     The Message
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October 10, 1997

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10, 1997 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 I? i i ;; (,'?!:5 1 : 9 r : 7 / L: ; i :  iiii    /  ii "iiiii    .:   : ting: Hard work, but definitely worth it By DAN LUBY Catholic News Service I've only climbed one mountain, and that was in my car. Against a brilliant blue sky, the snowy of Pike's Peak inspired me with awe and an intense desire to get to its top. The road was clear, the car in good shape. I figured half a morning should do it. Almost all of my expectations were rong. The road curved fiendishly. turns tested my reflexes and my nerve. My companions grew nervous and critical. Hours later, when we finally rached the top, I was exhausted. Had I known how hard it was going to be, I uld never have tried it. od is like that. On a clear day a distance, it seems an inspiring and awesome privilege. Parents charge filled with enthusiasm and Utterly unrealistic expectations. The bad news: Parenting is hard Work. The good news: It's worth it. We find it harder than we thought -- more Work, trickier, more dangerous, more trouble. Our initial confidence often takes a beating. Worry about things we never before. The other passengers on the trip don't often applaud our perfor- mance It always takes more elsgy than we figured And the downh of It can be as tough as the uphill. The gap between expectations and reality our on the parenthood journey may be the toughest thin- From a ...... , " g about it. EIllJd S point of view " , hardly looks like th,- : parenting - accumu tatect expe- hence it is. As children w, if w- ,'- . c thomzht of it, paren'dugt, t of it at all, as simpiy whai Once we become aren , 'discov .... P ts, though, we  now Complicated it is. Deci- Sions Our parents a , , , lnshno __ PF rn,lv made by , eveal themselves as Golomon- Ic tests of judgment, We find that the ati, , , mterru,,,.. [ cncc rcqtured tot pt]ons, ulaallswerable qttestlons and endless challenges to authority is not automatic, but a deliberate and difficult choice. Obstacles abound. The values par- ents work to instill are often under- mined by those of the culture of which we are a part. The solid givens of child rearing for one generation, like gender roles or norms of eti- quette and public behavior, vanish for another. Economic and social demands on parents erode the ener- gy and time they have for their chil- dren. Some barriers are raised simply by human interaction. Conflict between parents can result in inconsistent, confusing messages for kids. Today's children -- and therefore their parents face an unparalleled array of choices (Soccer or football? Dance or gymnastics? Cable or video?), contributing to a ense that every mordent or every day must be filled, creating over- crowded schedules and high stress. The exquisite demands of parent- hood are, happily, not visible until it's too late to turn back. Once embarked on the journey, we must go forward in spite of our shocking realization that we aren't certain where the blind turns will show up, that the risks of failure are greater than we imagined. Had I never attempted to reach the summit, l would have felt less anxi- ety and fatigue that day in the moun- tains. I would have had less stress, but my spirit would have been the poorer for missing the vista of the Rockies spreading out to the west as far as the eve could see. To be a parent is to embark on a climb that holds the promise of an inspmng and glorious vsmn, a chance to see the world through God's eves. That's worth whatever cost e have to pay. [Albt 15 dirt','tor Or lib' L)IUiSlOfi O/ Chrisli,7; [ orllattolt ,or the Diocese ot Fort Wort]t. ]'.Va>. C- .7, "To be a parent is to embark on a climb that holds the promise of an inspiring and glorious vision .... That's worth whatever cost we have to pay.'" CNS photo ty Mimi Forsyth Faith in the marketplace hoblodW do you define "parenthood"? Or, identify two of the "essentials" of parent- hleAbity, because nothin is certain but the unforeseen, especially in parent. the tim "u a strong sense of self. because vou're makin thousands of decisions all Clevela,,,"'a, nd !f you're second-uessin yourself vou'l'i go crazy."--Gail Koehler, ,,T -,,a rlei,h.o r-,,_ u ,,. - i.OVe _ -- o-,Lo, HIO ly love ancl COmmunication. You have to let them know how much they are real- don't hclan matter what happens, and too often, due to working so much, parents Elaine ve tme to talk with their kids  and talkin with them is essential." 'Res_P2e. r, South Milwaukee, Wis. You a,e,un.smmtY and dedication. Raising children is a kind of unwritten contract: of YOur ..t,..provide for their vhvsical, emotional and psychological nexls to the best haul ,, ' and it requires clelication to continue doing those things over the long ' Ke Dell, Colonia, N.J. Upcoming edition asks: Think of a church building that you treasure. What about this you ? If you would like to respond for possible publication, ph'ase write: Faith l-ourth St. N.E lgton, D.C. 20017-1100. Food for thought A parent is a work in process. That means that a significant part of a parent's definition of "parenthood" is likely to be based on actual parenting. It boils down to this: Parenthood is a whole lot different than people tend to think going into it. Now, as I see it, dealing with this reality constructively  being open to the larger dimensions of parenting as they emerge before your eyes  is a mark of adulthood. Parents are adults who accept the fact that they don't already know every- thing. As unanticipated, even mind-boggling challenges confront them, par- ents as adults: Respond reflectively, appropriately to what appears negative, and Don't overlook the fact that God may be beckoning to them through this very situation, with all its difficulty. I've only been a parent for 24 years. But already I think I've learned me- thing: Even if a situation involving a child produces high levels of frustration and anxiety for a parent, God is not absent there.. a , , In p renthood, Cathohcmm s sacramental imagination comes into full view: As children, who are works in process, make works in process of their parents, God remains part of the process. David Gibson, Editor, Faith Alive!