My daughter, Jayme, recently sent me a picture of my granddaughter, Melody, being pushed around in an empty box. Melody, who just turnedJay Stoneking headshot.jpg months old, was a little skeptical but clearly enjoying herself. It was an homage to a picture that's been treasured in our family for years--a picture of Jayme herself, wide-eyed and grinning with excitement as she was being pushed by me in an empty box of her own.

Seeing Melody sharing this simple joy brought a smile to my face and a flood of good memories. But it also reminded me of a reality that's difficult for any parent to come to terms with: my "little girl" was now raising her own family.

It all happened so quickly. It seems like yesterday that Jayme was graduating high school, then going off to college. Naturally, when I saw Jayme standing in front of the church wearing a wedding dress I knew that she was beginning a new chapter in her life. But seeing Jayme and Melody making memories together was somehow different. Like it or not, I realized that our days as a family unit were over. Now it was Jayme's turn. Jayme was no longer the child. Now she was the parent--with all of the responsibilities of parenthood falling squarely on her shoulders.

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All of this forced me to ask myself a question: Was she ready? Had I done
everything I was supposed to do so that my daughter could be a mom to this precious little one?

As any parent knows, most of our parenting skills are acquired by on-the-job training. But it's still essential to give your children a good, solid foundation to work from so they can become the parents of the future. That's what I tried to do with Jayme. I pray that I was successful.

Here are three foundational things that I tried to teach and model for all of my children:

Love God. I firmly believe that God is the centerpiece of any successful family. God gives us purpose, stability, and hope, and he's an anchor in the difficult times of life. 

Love others. We should reflect God's love in the way we treat others. We should love our children unconditionally, and our children should see a loving, caring spirit in us both publicly and privately.

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Do right. We should also reflect God's character. That means doing the right thing--even when it's hard, inconvenient, or out of step with what the rest of the world may be doing. Our children shouldn't just hear us saying what's right and wrong; they should see us living it out in our daily lives.

I wish Jayme and my son-in-law, Tim, all of the success in the world as they begin their own parenting adventure. I guess I should get myself ready to go through this angst all over again when--before I know it--my other "little girl," Stacey, gets married and begins having children too...