The older children and I had the phenomenal opportunity to hear one of our nation’s patriots speak about the training and leadership of the Navy SEALs. As a commanding officer in this elite fighting force, this gentleman had much to tell us about his experiences with his team and deployments. Courson and I shed more than a few tears during his talk.
People often ask how David and I can parent 16 children. If my children are within earshot, they’ll say I run a “tight ship.” An obvious Navy parallel…but after that forum discussion, I believe I learned there were a few more.
Over 11 years of service, 7 deployments, and 300 missions this officer never lost a man.
That fact struck me more than any other. You see, as a mom of 16 children, I have heard more times than I can count how surely ONE of my children will go off the deep end. Someone will rebel. At least one kid won’t buy what we are selling. And yet what kept this officer’s men alive was a combination of things we practice around this house every day.
Have each other’s “6”…
In other words, have your spouse’s back…and your fellow friends and neighbors who are parenting!
In military jargon, having someone’s “6” means they have your back covered. This commander made the point that as the team headed into a combat zone, the helicopter was silent. Men prepared for battle in different ways, but as you looked across the aisle, you knew…the man sitting across from you HAD YOUR BACK. Moms and Dads, you need to have each other’s back. You must stand in unity on your parenting decisions. In the most tiring stretches of parenthood, hold one another up with encouragement and prayer. I’ll add to this, that as parents, neighbors, friends, team parents, teachers, and community members we need to have each other’s back. Many has been the time when I have had the sobering talk from a coach, team parent, or friend about something one of my kids has done wrong. Some of those have been gut wrenching — if I can be perfectly honest with you. Some of them literally made my stomach turn. But thankfully, these parents, friends, and neighbors always truly had the best interest of my kid and my family at heart…and many times I am sure they helped us avoid disaster. Y’all, look out for each other. Be loving. Be humble. Love one another enough to sometimes say the hard things so that hopefully a family can avoid much harsher realities.
It may seem like you’re failing, but don’t give up.
At first, during training this SEAL Officer’s team was fraught with failure. Never making their timelines and last in many of the initial competitions, this future commander focused on the immediate task at hand instead of rehearsing past failures. Looking ahead toward two years of grueling training was overwhelming, so he focused on TODAY. RIGHT NOW. What the men could do best, learn and accomplish in THIS exercise. Day by day, those that stayed focused made it closer to their goal of becoming an elite fighting force. Those that did not…quit.
As a parent, if you focus on YOUR past, or your past failures as a parent, you will be paralyzed by guilt and fear…neither of which will be beneficial for you or your children.
And you WILL fail. Many times.
You’ll make mistakes far too numerous to count. But these do not make you a FAILURE. Looking too far ahead, to the 20+ years of raising an amazing adult is overwhelming. Instead keep your focus, keep your priorities, and day by day you will raise your own elite fighting force. One that the enemy of our souls will have great reason to fear. And better him afraid than you.
Mental strength is far more important than physical.
The commander made the point that mental strength was far more important than physical. Moms and dads, you must purpose to raise a kid with GRIT. Determination. All of you whining about your strong willed children should be rejoicing…your job is easy. Your kid came with grit and now you just have to train them in it. Those of you with whiners, complainers, “toe-over-the-line” passively aggressive kids really have your work cut out for you. But it’s not impossible. Press in and decide, determine ahead of time…your child WILL walk in their purpose and accomplish what God created them to do. Build into them at every opportunity to be an overcomer.
Lastly, the commander loved and served his men tirelessly. After a mission, he would walk barrack to barrack and check on his men before retiring for the evening. This reminded me of how we often spend extra time tucking in each child. That’s when you get their hearts to open up. It’s when the most delicate desires are voiced. It is a vulnerability allowed because by our actions we are showing them we are willing to listen. Moms and dads…take the time to check the barracks. Quietly listen and BE THERE. Show your kids your commitment to them, and they will open up to you.
Not one child will be lost. They WILL all walk humbly with their God and confident in their calling. Parents, have each other’s back. Stay focused. Learn from your failures and be positive. Don’t give up. Now let’s go raise some world changers…an elite fighting force to win back way too much territory that has been lost to the enemy.