To keep them young

Jackson is 8 months old. He crawls around on the floor. He pulls himself up on things to stand up. He coos, squeals, grunts, and makes endless raspberries. He’s the perfect size for Megan (10) and Paul (8) to pick up and play with. He loves to cuddle with mom and dad.

Eight months is one of those ages you wish your kids could just freeze and stay… forever.

This is the tension we live in as parents, isn’t it? We want them to slow down so we can enjoy each stage of development.

But they are in a hurry to grow up

Jackson wants to use real words to tells us exactly what he wants. He wants to not just stand up, but walk. He wants to run with his siblings. He wants to eat what we eat.

He wants to get big and we want to keep him small. 

It’s cute when they are babies. Certainly understandable and easy to justify.

But this tug to keep them young isn’t always good for them

The other day I hung out with Ryan McRae, a resident director at CSU San Marcos. He sees this same phenomenon every day with 18, 19, 20 year olds whose parents have done their best to keep their children young. Many of them are ill-equipped to live on their own. They lack basic judgment skills. Lots of them can’t even cook for themselves or do their own laundry.

Young adults who can’t take care of themselves. They can’t resolve conflict among themselves. He has to tell the parents to leave their adult-aged children alone.

I’m not a psychologist… but when I hear these things my mind wonders, “Are these young adults developmentally delayed?” Yes.

It’s cute to keep a baby young. But its not helpful to them beyond toddlerhood.

As parents we want to hold on to that cute baby who crawls around on the floor and coos. But, to be a good parent, we need to own our role in raising our children to become responsible, respectable adults. The goal of your parenting can not be to hold onto the past. It has to be to prepare your kids for the future.

Let’s explore this more. Join me in Atlanta for the Extended Adolescence Symposium on November 21st.


Jackson and Dad, 5 months in


No DNA test required, right? This is my boy.

JT has fit into our family from the first moment. We never knew he was missing from the family make-up until he invited himself to the party. He completes our little family.

This baby is proof that there are no accidents in God’s eyes, just emerging possibilities.

When an emerging possibility rocks you world, throw your hands in the air and enjoy the ride. His way is way more fun than your way.

hmm... thoughts

The Joy Machine

It’s been five weeks since Jackson was born.

It’s hard to remember what our family was like without him.

The fun part about Jackson, to us, is how much of an unexpected miracle he is to our family. With both Megan and Paul we carefully planned their arrival. I remember sitting down with Kristen and doing the math with the calendar about a year before she was born– “If Megan is born on May 12th, that will be the day after my last final. That will give us the best opportunity to spend the most time with her before classes begin.” With Jackson, the element of surprise changed everything. Even today we laugh thinking about having a 3rd baby. He wasn’t in the plan. He just showed up!

One thing I’ve noticed with Jackson that I didn’t notice with the other two is that a new baby isn’t just a joy for its parents and immediate family, he brings joy to every corner of our community. You see it on the faces of people everywhere we go with him! His arrival literally makes people smile.

Infectious Joy

  • Our extended family loves seeing him.
  • Our neighbors love seeing him.
  • People in our neighborhood who saw Kristen walking while she was pregnant stop her now to see him and smile.
  • People at church love seeing him.
  • People at both of our jobs love seeing him.
  • Long time friends from all over the world love seeing his pictures on Facebook.
  • The kids classmates and other random people at the kids school love seeing him.
  • The guy at our favorite smoothie shop loves seeing him.
  • Random people whom we barely know, stop us in public, because they love seeing him.
  • People we’ve never met but are our Facebook friends and Twitter followers love seeing him.

He is a joy machine!

One little baby has brought joy, spontaneous joy, to any entire group of people. I’m thankful to God for allowing me to observe it this time.

You are a joy machine, too

I’ve started to think about this observation in light of other people in my life. At one point you brought Jackson-like joy to your community. People oogled over you at the grocery store. Your parents neighbors counted down the days until you were born. People your parents barely knew smiled when they pushed a stroller around your block.

The same is likely true of you today. Even if you don’t see it– you bring joy to your community. People look forward to seeing you. Your impact isn’t just in your work or in the people you think it is, it’s so much deeper and wider than you can imagine. The guy at the smoothie shop (or coffee shop) you go to regularly looks forward to seeing you every day.

Don’t forget that. You are a joy machine.