Rite of Passage: 12-step parenting
There seems to be a 12-step program for everyone in the world: alcoholics, drug abusers, those with a gambling addiction and even people who overeat. That last one hits a little too close to home. Any day now, I am expecting my wife and sons to do an intervention.
So why hasn’t someone started a 12-step program for parents? I would be the first to sign up. I can see myself standing in front of a small group, saying, “My name is Walker and I am . . . a parent.” As soon as the words, “I am a parent” roll from my lips, I can see a group of people shaking their head from side to side as they mumble something similar to “Help’m, Jesus.”
I don’t understand why no one has come up with this concept except that there would be no moms or dads left at home to take care of the children. Every parent in the world would be at one of these meetings mumbling, “Help’m, Jesus.”
I have had many friends and family members attend AA meetings and come to grips with their addictions. Unless you’re octo-mom, I don’t know whether parenting can be classified as an addiction, but it comes close. Once a child is born, the parenting never stops.
I am far from an expert on these 12-step programs but the common denominator seems to be that they all have . . . 12 steps. I am not sure why except that an 11-step program sounds wrong and a 13-step program sounds like too much. Twelve steps must be a good manageable number.
Each of these programs starts off with a confession of powerlessness. In a parenting program, the 12 steps might look like this:
1. I confess I am powerless over my children. They have become unmanageable.
The next step is to recognize a Higher Being:
2. I know there is a God. Without Him, my children would never have survived with me as their parent for as long as they have.
The rest are steps are to empower a person to make changes:
3. I confess I need a partner in this parenting process. I chose the Father of all living things to join me in raising my children.
4. In order for my children to change, I realize I must change, because a changed life changes lives.
5. I will admit to God and other mature adults the areas where I struggle to be a good parent.
6. I am ready to raise my children according to the Word and the will of God.
7. I will ask God to be my strength where I am weak.
8. Not only will I seek to become a better parent, but I also will become a better child to my parents.
9. I will learn to demonstrate God’s forgiveness to my children and to those who have harmed me.
10. I will allow godly mentors to hold me accountable for the ways I parent.
11. Through prayer, I will share daily with my heavenly Father my ups and downs, my disappointments and my victories. I will present every need to Him.
12. As God gives me victories in my parenting, I will reach out to other parents who are having difficult times.
The only problem with a program is that it has a beginning and an end. Parenting is a process, and that is why we need God—Who understands this process—to help us.
In my parenting, I was blessed to have a godly wife who knew we couldn’t do it alone. As soon as I figured out how to change a diaper, our sons were potty trained. As soon I taught them how to walk, they were driving. As soon as I taught them how to love God, they were looking for a life mate to love. And as soon as I got comfortable with one season of their lives, another season appeared on the horizon.
I must confess that I don’t like change, especially when it comes to the seasons of raising children. I used to be our boys’ stroller pusher at the mall. Then I became the bus driver who took them to school every morning. Then I became the chauffeur and fan who drove them to games and watched them play sports. Then I became the innkeeper as they came home from college on weekends and used our home as a pit stop. Now I am the “old man,” the “father-in-love” and one day (I hope) . . . the granddad.
On the day I first looked into my children’s eyes, no one told me that I had taken my first step in a . . . 12,000-step program.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.