My husband is an actuary. He is a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries. Like many professionals, in order to maintain his designation, he must take 30 hours a year of professional development even though he has met all the qualifications and passed all the exams, studied for 1000's of hours and worked in his field for 20 years. So why does he need professional development, and what does that have to do with parenting?
An actuary needs professional development because his industry is constantly changing. New laws are implemented, plan designs change, and ethical rules are revised to keep pace with a changing economy. In the same way that a professional actuary needs to continually invest in his education to keep up with insurance industry trends and changes in law, parents who take their vocations seriously need to take the time to learn more about parenting. If you think about it, parenting is way more important than any paying job you're ever going to get, and the reward is infinitely higher. Our goal is heaven, and each of our children has the potential to become a saint.
We recently signed up for Parents University. One Friday night a month, we leave the kids, and instead of heading out to a restaurant for a nice dinner, we meet with other couples at a high school and sit in the same desks I remember from so long ago and listen to classes which are helping us grow together as parents. We are learning about the natural law, and freedom. We are discussing the meaning of life. This is our professional development.
We are spending time with other parents who are similarly hoping to learn more about how to guide their children through the sleepless period of infancy, on to busy toddler-hood, to the rambunctious childhood years, the angst filled adolescent years and the tentative first steps into young adulthood. All of us there know that our jobs as parents are important enough to sacrifice a weekend evening; that professional development in our vocation is crucial to help us adapt to our ever-changing roles.
After 20 years of parenting experience, we know, more than ever before, that there is always something more to learn. That no matter how much experience we have, we can always improve our skills, learn a new technique, discover a new way to speak to the heart of each one of our very unique children. We have lots of tools at our disposal: the Sacramental life, our prayer life, devotions, lots of Holy Water, our intellect, and the grace of our vocation, and professional development.