Thursday, August 13, 2009

Serious Parenting

From Belinda's Archives

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 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 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 manwhose quiver is full of them...


Deidra said...

I remember the day we were scheduled to take our first child home from the hospital. I kept waiting for someone in authority to come into my hospital room and speak the truth: "This woman has no idea what she's doing. The baby cannot go home with her." Naturally, nothing like that happened and I realized that no one really knows what they're doing as a parent. My son will turn 21 this year, and he's doing well, in spite of me.

Brenda Leyland said...

Hi, my first time visit. I just read your posting over at Kimberley's site. Really enjoyed it.

So I had to come and visit. I am really moved by your sidebard comment about the one piece of wisdom you'd leave behind..... it really is the key!


Belinda said...

Welcome Brenda! And Deidra, my children (39 and 37 now,) like your son, have turned out to be amazing human beings--but it was in spite of my/our parenting. The one thing we did right was love them and say that we were sorry when we blew it. That meant a lot of sorries!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Teaching silence is a way to encourage abuse and victimization. Children have been taught silence. Women have been subjected to rules of silence. People with disabilities have been 'programmed' to silence. They say that evil flourishes in darkness, that may be but it also runs amok in silence.

Belinda said...

Dave, I agree! Even now, in a time when there is more openness, the message to avoid certain taboo topics can be subtly communicated, along with a payload of shame and guilt.

Olson Family said...

AMEN AND AMEN!! {wide grin} God's mercy stretches across the wide gap between my lack of parenting skills and my children's tender hearts and needs.

Thank You, Lord, for being the perfect parent -- and for filling in the gaps!!

Hallelujah! And thank you for this most encouraging post!