ATSP ED NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2018 “Parenting By Degrees “

Imagine a job for which one needs no qualification, no training, no interview, no employment contract, no experience, no appraisal but, sad to say, no pay! Would you like such a job? Would you take on such a job? Maybe you would be too over-qualified for such a job! It sounds quite a cushy, easy job! Whether you like it or realise it or not, you already have it! What is more, it is not the cushy, easy job but it is in fact the hardest job in the world. It is the job of being a parent!

We do not need any qualification to be a parent, or any training. We are not invited to an interview and asked: “So, tell us, why do you want to be a parent?” (In truth, though, it is probably a question we never stop asking ourselves after becoming a parent!) No-one says: “Right, we like what we see and we would like to make you a parent.” We do not require any experience, we do not receive any appraisal on our performance and, sad to say, we are not reimbursed in any way financially – in fact, we pay (all the time!) to have this extraordinarily hard job! It is the hardest job in the world to be a parent yet we need no qualification to be one (other than, perhaps, to know and understand a little bit of biology). However, if we did need a qualification to be a parent, what qualification would that be? There is no Bachelor Degree in Parenting offered at university, probably as a bachelor would not normally be a parent! Is there a Parent Degree…?

It has been said (by William Ross Wallace) that motherhood “takes the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the faith of Abraham, the strength of Samson, the insight of Daniel and the courage of David!” Perhaps that may be our starting point but not just for mothers, please note. We as parents firstly need the wisdom of Solomon. We would be wise to understand that wisdom does not mean knowing right from wrong (that is often common sense or conscience) but knowing right from right, for our child, in different situations, based on principles. Secondly we as parents need the patience of Job, to handle the difficulties that will inevitably come in varying degrees and situations. The third qualification we need is the faith of Abraham; in our case it should refer to us having faith that good will come of our child even when we do not see any signs of it. Fourthly, we will need the strength of Samson, to cope with the twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week responsibility.

The fifth qualification was stated as the insight of Daniel but I would like to suggest it might more accurately read the principles of Daniel. In the face of relentless pressure, Daniel did not waver in what he believed in; as parents we must live up to that standard. The final qualification was given as the courage of David but again I would like to suggest that David be remembered more for his humility than his courage. He twice made seriously bad choices which had massive consequences on his family but he showed great humility in admitting those mistakes and in recognising the huge responsibility he had. We might also add that we need the love of God, an unconditional love.

We would do well therefore to develop such qualifications as parents. We would be wise to gain them in the same way that we go about gaining other qualifications, by reading, studying, attending workshops. A Bachelor’s degree can take a minimum of three years to attain; how much time are we giving to our Parent’s degree? What makes us think we can do the job with such limited training? The bottom line is that being a parent is not a job. It is a calling, a gift, a blessing. Be qualified for it!

For an article on this subject, “Welcome Wisdom”, do look at