For two summers of my college life every Tuesday and Thursday night were devoted to one of my favorite Summer Olympic events, rowing.
The way a team works with precision and such grace is a magnificent site to view as the boat glides across the water with the crew driving their strokes in unison.
Through hours of relentless practice, the rowers learn to observe slightest shifts of motion, to balance the boat with their body, and to pull their strokes in synch. No matter what happens while in the boat, the team must work together inspite of conditions and circumstances.
Being part of a rowing crew not only pushed me beyond my comfort zone, but it has also given me some key components to use while parenting my own children.
Trusting the Coxswain: Trust is one of the hardest objects to obtain. As a rower, your viewing position is not a head on view. That is the job of the coxswain who is able to see exactly where the boat is going in order to steer the course. As parents, the father is to be the one leading his crew and it is our job as wives to trust his judgement even during times when it seems the boat may be going off course. By respecting our husband as the head of the household, we are establishing an order for our children to follow.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. – 1 Corinthians 11:3
Continuence in spite of the conditions: I can recall several practices which took place during a down pouring rain, a sweltering sun, or a blustery morning. To find weather conditions that were ideal for rowing were a rarity at best. Parenting doesn’t stop for anything. As soon as that child is in your arms, you are on. Whether you have the flu, fatigue, or are frustrated, you are called to continue forward. Without God’s strength within us, we become weak and downtrodden, but with Him in us, we can parent through all conditions of life.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Catching a Crab: During our first attempt to row in unison, our crew took off in a slow synchronized rhythm and began to pick up its pacing. I remember gliding on the water, counting my strokes, and then WHAMO! – I “caught a crab”. No, I did not reel in my meal for the evening. Catching a crab is the wording for causing your oar to dip too far under the water creating a vice grip between your fingers, oar and boat. Regardless of the agonizing pain and throbbing pulse in my semi-broken fingers, our boat raced forth. I had no other choice but to quickly adapt, rowing the best I could, until we reached the shore. As parents, every once in a while we will catch a crab, but it’s how we react through the process that matters. Whether the news is an unplanned pregnancy, an uncovered addiction to pornography, or any other seemingly impossible situation, we must adapt our emotions to react in a way that lets our children know that no matter the circumstance, they are loved.
Synchronizing your stroke: A solid smooth skimming rowing crew does not happen over night. It takes time, several mistakes, and a willingness to keep working as a team. The same applies to parenting. We may not always agree with our spouse, but it is vitally important that we have the same core values and fundamental means for correction. Kids know when parents are not working on the same crew. Ever notice a child seemingly steer in the direction of one spouse over the other when attempting to make a request to their benefit? When parents are not rowing together, the boat becomes uneven and more susceptible to capsizing.
Working in unison is the only way a rowing team can be successful. As parents, our ultimate goal should be rowing through the regatta of life as members of one body while raising up the next generation to love the Lord with all their heart, all their soul, all their strength, all their mind, and to love their neighbor as themselves. –Mark 12: 30-31, Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37
Do you have any parenting tips you have learned along the way that you wish to share?