Parenting and Apollo 13

26 Aug

Untitled design (2)Do you remember the movie, Apollo 13? There’s this scene where the astronauts are headed back to earth and have to perform a manual course correction. The plan is to burn the engines for 39 seconds while keeping the earth in the window, thus ensuring they’re headed in the right direction. Sounds simple enough, right? But then, they light the engines, and their ship dances around like an ADHD 4-year-old on Kool-Aid and cupcakes. For 39 seconds, they shift up, shift down, move this direction and that, while the earth goes in and out of view. And just at the last second when you think there’s no way they’re going to get their ship pointed in the right direction, the earth settles in the window, and they turn off the engines.

Sometimes, that’s what parenting feels like. You look at your tiny baby, look at your spouse, and say, “All we have to do is keep our eyes on God. Teach this little guy about the Lord, teach him Scriptures, teach him to pray. Get him educated and grow him strong. Ready and . . . go!

And then it’s 18 years of: “More church. Wait, that’s too much. Too busy. Back off. Read him Scriptures. Uh-oh, he’s rolling his eyes. Look for life lessons to teach. Wait, more Scriptures. Stop yelling. Oh, wait, that’s me. Less of this, more of that, get the Lord back in the window . . .” And then, God-willing, just as you’re ready to send them off on their own, they get it figured out. At least that’s the prayer.

I’m still in that crazy time, trying to figure out parenting. Just when one thing starts to work, another thing falls apart. What works for one kid sends another into a tailspin. I try, I fail, I yell, and I spend a lot of time—a LOT of time—in prayer.

If you’re in the throes of parenting and it feels like that 39 seconds on Apollo 13, you’re not alone. Find other parents to share your struggles with and pray a lot. If you’ve raised your kids, you might consider offering help, counsel, or prayer for a younger couple. And if you don’t have any kids, please hold back your judgments. The vast majority of us are doing our best, and it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Do you have any parenting advice to share today?

Have any parenting stories you’d like to share?


Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.


Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Parenting, Robin Patchen


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6 responses to “Parenting and Apollo 13

  1. Pegg Thomas

    August 27, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Here’s my favorite story. When our son was 17 my reoccurring thought was, “Where are the marauding Gypsies when you need them!” That was a miserable year. He knew everything. Just. Everything.

    One particularly frustrating day I told him to write a book. He asked me why. I said, “Because you know everything now and in a few years, you’re going to need to read that book.” Oh… did that make him mad! So then every time he knew it all, I’d just ask him, “Wrote that book yet?” He’d get mad, but he’d shut up too.

    Fast forward about 6 years, and I walked into the kitchen as he was saying to a friend of mine, “Mom told me I should have written a book when I was 17. She was right.”


    They grow up, in spite of our parenting. In spite of themselves. In spite of the world we live in. But God. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jericha Kingston (@JerichaKingston)

    August 27, 2014 at 1:53 am

    God’s grace is sufficient! I’m so thankful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rpatchen

    August 27, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Pegg, I love that story! And as the mom of a 17-year-old young man, I can completely relate.


  4. Candice Sue Patterson

    August 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Can’t say I have any advice. My oldest is 12 going on 18 and most days I’m pulling my hair out. Great post, Robin. I love the Appolo 13 reference. And, Pegg, great story. I might just use that one. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pegg Thomas

    August 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    And the funniest part? Now that Jeff is a teacher, he uses that same “You need to write a book” line with his students! HA! And now he gets the pissy-faced looks. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Erin Taylor Young

    August 30, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I. Can. Relate. : ) I love your Apollo 13 illustration. Indeed, parenting feels just like that.



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