The Gift of Parents

The Gift of Parents

The Importance of Cherishing Your God-Given Teammates

by Heather Cofer | May 1, 2013

My husband Judah and I have a beautiful and unique love story. In short, we met in Mongolia when we were 12 years old, where both of our families were missionaries, started a long distance relationship when we were 17, and after two and a half years of crossing the pacific ocean every six months to see each other, were married in my home church in Colorado. I have had many people ask about our story, and I love telling it! It is amazing to look back and see the way the Lord began weaving our lives together. There is one question in particular I am asked quite often: 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone preparing for a relationship, especially a young woman still in her teens?

My answer: Involve your parents. This may be surprising for some, but it was one of the most crucial elements the Lord used to bring about a wonderful, godly love story.

We live in a culture where most young people do not, and are not expected to, have a good relationship with their parents. Sadly, this is also the mind-set of many Christians. As a result, when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex, parents are often not involved. It could be that the child rejects the parents input, or the parents simply aren’t interested. Whatever the case may be, it is a far cry from the pattern God has established in the Bible for the role of parents in their children’s lives.

Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” This shows an active participation on the part of both the children and the parents. The parents are called to teach and instruct and guide their children in Truth, and the children are called to heed this instruction.

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Ephesians 6:2-3 says, “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Part of honoring our parents is allowing them to have the role in our lives that God has intended them to have. It is His design to have a father protect and guard his daughter from other men who would be harmful to her in any way, until the day he gives her to the right man in marriage.

“What if,” you may ask, “I desire to have this kind of relationship with my parents, but they don’t seem to be interested?” We cannot force our parents to teach and guide us, but we can honor them by inviting them to be involved, and listening when they do offer advice. When we are doing what the Lord has called us to do, we can trust that the Lord will use this in our parentsʼ lives, too. As young women, we must all seek to establish this kind of relationship with our parents. It will prove to be life-giving and incredibly valuable, especially when God begins writing our love story with a young man.

In situations where the parents arenʼt Christians or are not at all interested in being involved, prayerfully consider other ways you can set up this kind of accountability and protection.There may be another older couple who could be “spiritual parents,” so to speak, and come alongside you as teammates and mentors throughout the relationship.

For me, this process started long before the Lord brought my husband into the picture. When I was 14 years old, I began having struggles in some of my friendships, and turned to my mom for wisdom. Because I invited her into my life, I did not take her encouragement or challenges as being pushy or invasive. She also never took advantage of this, and has since expressed to me how deeply honored  she was to be asked to enter into my life in this way. She became my mentor, most trusted confidante, and best friend.

I also had a wonderful relationship with my dad. During my teenage years, we spent many hours talking about what a godly love story should look like. We had a mutual understanding that he had been given the responsibility of guarding my heart until the day he gave me to another man in marriage. It wasnʼt oppressive in any way. In fact, it brought great peace knowing there was a wise man of God ready to give guidance and protection in this incredibly significant area of my life.

It was because my parents and I had established a solid relationship before my love story began that inviting them into this new, beautiful, sacred part of my life was so natural. The role of my parents took on different aspects throughout the relationship. Here are a couple of examples:

After Judah asked my dad if he could start getting to know me better and the two of them had established what that would look like, he began writing to me through email (we were on opposite sides of the world at the time). I allowed my mom to read every email we wrote to each other during the eight months before we saw each other again. During those early stages, having my parents keep a watchful eye on our correspondence kept us from second-guessing whether or not our conversations were appropriate for that time. Later on, my parents didnʼt read every email we wrote, but because of their guidance during those first months, we knew they trusted us to maintain the standard of purity they had seen in those first emails.

When I was 13, I made the decision to save my first kiss for my wedding day. My parents not only supported this, but fully committed to coming alongside me to hold me accountable in the area of physical purity. This was the desire of my heart throughout my teenage years, and once Judah and I began our love story, it was no different. But I never would have guessed how much more difficult it would be to live it than to just speak it, once I was actually in a relationship. Having my parents walk beside us in this played a huge part in helping us keep our commitment to purity. My dad and Judah agreed on what things would be appropriate, and at what point we would be free to do them. So, even in the times when Judah and I were together, but away from my parents, there was always an accountability that gave stability and freedom.

What an amazing thing it was to come to our wedding day, knowing that both my parents and Judahʼs parents (who were also very involved), were able to fully enter into the joy of our marriage, having walked through our love story with us every step of the way. They were able to watch first-hand how the Lord had drawn us together, and had no doubt that this was His doing.

Your story wonʼt look just like ours, but you can fully trust that as you allow those whom the Lord has placed over you as your protectors to be a part of this significant time in your life, He will make it more beautiful than you could ever imagine!

Here are some practical ways you could begin the process of building this kind of relationship with your parents:

When you need advice or counsel, instead of turning to a friend, go to your parents. Depending on what kind of advice you need, you may go to just one or the other. Seeking them out in this way will be a display of trust and respect for them.

Be intentional about spending time with them in everyday things. Help your mom fix dinner or simply sit with your dad while he is working on a project. Ask them questions about their day. Show them that you enjoy just being with them and are interested in their lives.

Don’t be afraid to sit down and talk with them about your desire to be protected and guided in the area of relationships. Ask them if they would be willing to come alongside you as your accountability partners and guardians. If you do this before a relationship has even begun, and they agree, you will both be on the same page once God does bring a young man into your life.

When they come to you offering advice, receive it humbly and thankfully. Even if you don’t completely agree with what they are saying, always be respectful and teachable in your attitude toward them.

Express to them your thankfulness that the Lord has given them the role of being your parents. Point out specific things you appreciate about them, especially things they have done well in the area of parenting.

Establish a solid biblical understanding of God’s intended purpose for the role of parents in their children’s lives. This comes through careful and prayerful study of the scriptures. Ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to His will in this area.