Parenting with purpose and passion. There’s some heavy alliteration for you. My devotional for the last month has been from a little book called Prayers of a Loving Mother. It doesn’t list a specific author, but Brighton Books published the volume. The first prayer asks “enable me to love my children with purpose and passion.”

Those p’s have dominated my thoughts since I read them. What does it mean exactly? I think the passion part comes easily. The moment we behold those squirming, squealing works of art, our hearts know a love that can’t be quenched. It’s the passion that compels us through sleepless nights and angry, little tantrums. The passion that endures through countless basketball practices. And the passion that stays glued to the phone the first time they drive off, freshly-minted license in hand.

But what is our purpose as parents? I’m embarrassed to say that, although I’ve been a mom for almost twenty years, an answer didn’t immediately spring to mind. I think in the daily grind of parenting, our purpose gets lost. We’re putting out fires, rising early to feed and dress little ones, driving around to various events, bathing them, and reading bedtime stories, and then falling into bed to do it all again. The needs of the moment blur our long-term vision. Even now, I’m trying to write this while simultaneously helping Tot assemble a Lego model. Thinking past right now is a luxury.

After a few quiet moments, I jotted down several functions of this job. Looking at them, I realized some are immediate (don’t let them eat the poinsettia) and some are long-term (teach them to be responsible adults). Sometimes I forget I am involved in a two-decade project. Only focusing on the current need, though, leads to frustration. “I’ve told him twenty-seven times today! Why doesn’t he get it?”

Proverbs 22:6 sums up our purpose in one phrase: Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

“When they are older…” The verse doesn’t say our children will understand this moment, week, or even year. Our purpose is to help them reach adulthood, happy and well-adjusted. Our purpose is to forge citizens able to easily navigate society. Our purpose is to rear Godly spouses and, one day, parents. We should remind ourselves of this daily.

I’ve also realized there needs to be a balance between the two p’s. Passion without purpose leads to self-absorption. But purpose without passion creates anxiety and rebellion. Our children need a healthy dose of both to reach self-sufficiency.

When I picked up that little devotion book, I didn’t expect it to garner such thought. Honestly, I was looking for something light to accompany my scripture memorization. But I’m thankful that it did trigger some self-reflection. Parenting should require contemplation. It’s a serious job.