Older and younger parents

Originally Appeared in : 9919-9/12/19

Our son Elliott is about to turn 21. We are celebrating his birthday this weekend with a big party, inviting the guys in his high school graduating class (all 10 of them) along with his college friends and roommates and a bunch of our friends as well.


Elliott lives around the corner from us in a house with several other young men his age. They are in a “household,” a group of young men who are either working or in college. These men are focused not just on being roommates, but being a part of encouraging and supporting each other in this season of life. It’s such a wonderful thing, and Paul and I are so grateful Elliott and our older son Ethan are a part of it.


I was reflecting on this recently: Elliott and his birthday and the plans for a Saturday evening soiree featuring all kinds of college dudes. It was an interesting comparison between this upcoming celebration and the first day of school for my three youngest children, ages 9, 12 and 17. Here they were, our kids still at home, finally going back to their K-12 private Christian school after a very long summer.


The first day back assembly was a fun time for me because my youngest brother, Zach, and his wife, Amy, now have a child at our school. So our son Augie, who is a Senior, got to celebrate having a cousin there, who is in kindergarten, along with their grandfather, who teaches biology. What a beautiful, beautiful life.


This year I have three boys in college (while now teaching college as well), along with a high school senior, a son in middle school and our daughter in elementary. We are covering it all. It’s a crazy time but also very sweet. There is so much to love about each of these stages.


I will tell you that one of the biggest challenges I have with such a wide spread of ages and stages is remembering that even though Henry and Isabel are younger and “easier” (in many ways) than their older brothers, I still need to take the time and energy to focus on their issues. It can be a real temptation to see the events of a fourth or sixth grader as much less significant than what goes on with bigger kids (SAT scores and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), and housing deadlines etc). 


But I love that God loves my children so much that he sends helpers to assist Paul and me in our parenting endeavors. When I need support for dealing with big kids, God sends us those friends. And when we need reminders to fight the good fight and continue to have high standards for our younger children, we get that as well.


One of the things I love about dealing with parents whose oldest children are Henry and Isabel’s ages (compared to Henry and Isabel being our youngest), is the energy and zeal younger parents have. While it might sound like I’m being facetious, I absolutely mean that I am so grateful for these parents who remind me that working hard in so many areas is an important part of this parenting adventure.


We all can learn from each other. Younger parents (and I remember those days) have a lot to learn from parents who have seen some things. I am so grateful for parents who have gone before me and raised excellent human beings and can share their wisdom with me, who encourage and guide Paul and me as we work to guide our children.


And I’m equally grateful for younger parents who still see the world with fresh vision. They remind me of all the ways things can be, even when I’m tempted to focus on all the ways I feel tired from failure and exhaustion.


We are all here for each other, encouraging and lifting up. We are on the same team, supporting each other in our goal to bring our children to the feet of Jesus, so Jesus can meet our children where they are.


Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.

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