I will never forget the day I met my daughter face to face. I had loved her long before then. I had prayed for her and over her since I’d learned of her coming. I had heard her heartbeat, watched her movement and growth through ultrasounds, and felt her kicks. We had already enjoyed conversations (though one-sided). But on the afternoon of her birth, finally having the opportunity to hold her and look into her eyes is a moment I will never forget.
I thank God for the privilege and joy of being a parent. The relationships between parents and children are special. Whether the relationship begins biologically or by love, the parent-child relationship and the family are to be honored and celebrated. While people of various faiths in the U.S. and around the world recognize the importance and significance of parent-child relationships, as Christians, those relationships have added significance. In giving His commandments to Moses and Israel in the 20th chapter of Exodus, God calls out the parent-child relationship specifically:
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
This fifth commandment was the first God gave following His commands for our relationship with Him. As noted by Paul, it is the “first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
At Houghton, we have long honored the role parents play in the lives of their children. Even as most Houghton students come to us at age 18 or older, we recognize and celebrate the incredibly important role families have played and continue to play in the lives of Houghton students. To that end, we begin to directly engage with families during the admissions process. We want to ensure that families have their questions answered and have access to all the information they need to provide support to students as they make college decisions.
Our direct engagement with families does not end when students choose Houghton. When students choose Houghton to pursue their college education, we welcome their families to the Houghton family. In alignment with our Christian faith and based on experience, we know that the likelihood of a student’s success in college—spiritual, academic, social and emotional—increases substantially with family support. Our goal is to partner with parents and families in providing an intentionally Christ-centered, high-quality education for students. Parents and families have loved and nurtured their children all their lives. My desire is that Houghton becomes a part of students’ support system—a part of a village that loves, supports, challenges, nurtures and disciples them.
I thank God for the opportunities I have had over the last few years to meet and build relationships with so many Highlander parents. Some parents, I meet during the admissions process, and our relationships continue as their children matriculate to Houghton. I have been privileged to meet many parents in the evenings and on weekends as we support their children’s co-curricular experiences in art, music, drama and athletics. In some instances, our relationships begin away from Houghton—through the church, parachurch organizations or various Christian education channels. And I know my experience is like that of so many Houghton staff and faculty members who treasure the gifts, talents, love and support that Houghton parents share not only with their own children but with our Houghton community.
I thank God for the parents, grandparents and families who contribute so much to the Houghton community, sometimes through their physical presence on campus; sometimes through their gifts and service; and so often through their prayers, support and encouragement.
Even in higher education, parents and families matter tremendously. We thank God for our parents and families, we honor the place that God has given them in the lives of our students, and we thank God for the privilege of serving our students and their families.
About the Author
Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr is beginning his second year as president of Houghton University. He became the sixth president of Houghton in June 2021 after serving as the inaugural Dean of the School of Education at Belmont University. During his first year at Houghton, Dr. Lewis has emphasized a strong commitment to students and employees. The University has achieved several significant milestones under his leadership—including achieving a new name, Houghton University; streamlining the academic structure; and initiating the development of a future-focused strategic plan. Read more about President Lewis.