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Children — Is there a perfect number?

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By John Lapp

How much? How many? What am I talking about, anyway?
Well, it’s not (a) how much money is enough, or (b) how many malted-milk balls you can consume, but how many kids is enough? And, how is it that some parents are satisfied with one and others have as many as the Duggar famiIy in the very popular and enjoyable TV program, “19 And Counting”? That’s right, they have 19 children and we, the viewers, do not have any idea how many there will be when they stop “counting.”
And, by the way, all of the children’s names begin with the letter “J.”
Well, let us proceed with this topic.
All of us have been one — a kid, that is. Others have either raised one or more (past tense), or are presently doing that (present tense). Some parents have raised only one (maybe you’re that one), while other parents are still adding to the numbers.
Mrs. Lapp and I have two, both of whom are adults with children of their own. My wife and I believe that God intended for us to have only two, and we gladly went along with his program.
I have a couple of very humorous pictures of “frazzled” mothers, which I have presented in seminars or training sessions when I spoke at some churches. Some of the humor used is as follows:
•A mother of three notoriously unruly kids was asked, “If you had it to do all over again, would you have children?”
“Yes,” she replied, “but not the same ones.”
•Also, “the secret of dealing successfully with a chiId is not to be its parent.”
•“The smartest advice on raising children is to enjoy them while they are still on your side.”
•Finally (although I have dozens more), “Run the vacuum often ... not to clean, but to drown out the kids.”
Most of the hundreds of parents I have had the God-given privilege of helping would agree with the statement made by a mother, “You can get children off your lap, but you can never get them out of your heart.”
While the struggles of being a parent, especially those of us who intended to be the perfect parent and had “theories” about raising children, soon learned to scrap the theories.
The theories probably began with something like “10 commandments for raising children,” which, depending on the children we produced, soon changed to “10 suggestions...” and then to “10 helpful hints.”
Then, we decided theories don’t work.
I guess, it was experience that was our best teacher and helped us do the best we could, and I believe that most parents feel the same.
Most have said something like, “I did the best I could, made many mistakes, learned from them (I think) and did better when, or if, the next child came along.”
When my wife and I look back on the years that we parented our children, we felt the same as other parents.
There has never been a perfect set of parents (although the Duggars seem to come close, at least that what we are privileged to see and hear). We all ask, “Why did we do that?” or “What would have been a better way to do that?”
This, of course, after making a parental mistake when correcting or disciplining a child.
So, to complete this topic — at least this first of a two-part segment, the second part to be presented next week — suffice it to say, while many adolescents I have counseled over the past four decades have stated with resolve, “I’m not going to have any children.”
When they get married and have friends who have children, they will more than likely have children of their own.
I pass this advice along to them, and to all of you who have children of your own: wisdom cannot be taught from college courses or handy books, and wisdom is an integral part of what it takes to raise chiIdren. The Bible states, “If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men willingly...” And we have had to rely on his wisdom as parents when the theories didn’t work as planned.
May God bless you today, whether you are or are not parents.
If I may be of any help to you or your family, call 477-2818.