Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Serious Parenting

I lounged in a comfortable, wing back chair in our big sunny room at the back of the house, chatting with my brother on the phone. As usual, we laughed a lot.

“It’s good to look to a funny side of things if you can,” said Robert. Reflecting on the past, he said,“I always took myself too seriously.”

I’d been sharing a funny conversation that I’d had with some friends the week before. We were talking about how much has changed in one generation, when it comes to bringing up children.

We remembered the amount of freedom kids had a few years ago. We would leave the house in the morning and maybe drop back in for lunch; or maybe not. Nobody worried too much. Parents knew that you were with friends and would come home eventually.

Someone said that his mother used to lock him out of the house. As people compared notes, it seemed that this was not an uncommon practice! One person after another said, “Yes, my mother did that too.” Some mothers did it to clean the house; other mothers did it to keep it clean.

Kids would press their faces up against the windows and beg, “Mom, please can I come in?” all to no avail.

A friend told me that if she got sent home sick from school, her mother wouldn’t let her in. “You’re not sick, go back to school,” she would say.

Marc, who looked to be the youngest in the group, grew up on a farm. He said that if he or his siblings misbehaved, they had to do the laundry—on a washboard in the ash tub.

Robert and I remembered the torture we went through because laughter was not allowed at the dinner table. This rule of course, is almost guaranteed to produce uproarious and uncontrollable laughter.

Our parents (mainly my dad) would say strange things to us, like, “Don’t answer back.” I mean, aren’t we supposed to answer back?

“Don’t contradict,” was always a puzzle to me. How were we to tell our parents when they were wrong

And of course we frequently heard that, “Children should be seen and not heard.” It’s hard to imagine parents telling their children that today.

I said to Robert that there we were, a reasonably well adjusted group of people, in spite of everything.

Robert said, “Apart from a few twitches, and the fact that when someone raised their hand to scratch his head, everyone ducked,” and we laughed.

It is the grace of God that children, the most vulnerable and precious gift imaginable, entrusted to untrained and very inept grown ups, turn out as well as they do. As parents we can take very little of the credit and can only be grateful.

Psalm 127:3-5 (New International Version)
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

are sons born in one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man

whose quiver is full of them...

1 comment:

Angcat said...

Hi Belinda,
That was fun and so true.
To be light hearted, my Dad would say at the table, "How many times have I told you not to chew with your mouth full!" and "How many times have I told you, don't talk with your mouth open." This would bring lots of giggles and as we got older lots of eye rolling too. Now I try it on my kids and they do the same things back.
Love Ang