I recently came across a treasure in a file drawer at work. A Christmas gift from around 1999 or 2000 made by my oldest daughter (she would have been around 3 or 4 at the time)…….for God.
Hindsight is an extremely valuable tool when it comes to parenting. We can always peek backwards to take notice of words, actions, or moments that we’d like to have a “do over” on……and make it a point to not repeat those missteps.
And we can look back and take notice of the things that we got right along the way……..and try to repeat those things as we move forward.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 15 years trying to help kids become better basketball shooters (without much success). When a kid uses good form and has a good release but the shot fails to go through the hoop, I find it’s important to speak encouragement, “That looked good. You’re on the right track. Keep shooting.”
But when a kid releases a shot that flies off their fingertips, finds the perfect arch, and touches nothing but net, I no longer have to encourage. The sound of the ball touching only the net tells the most important part of the story. I need only say, “Repeat”. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working.
My daughter’s Christmas gift to God served as a simple reminder of some things that her mother and I have gotten right along the way as parents. Things that are worthy of repeating. And it reminded me that our kids are quite privileged…….but not in ways that you might think. Privileged in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with income or ethnicity or any kind of nonsense that gets floated around posing as serious thought. Our kids are privileged in values, some that are certainly worth repeating:
1) They were taken to church from birth to learn about God. And it wasn’t just that church attendance has been a priority. They grew up in a home where we tried to, and though we failed in different ways daily, honor God in all parts of our lives. How we speak to and treat one another and others. Patience, gentleness, grace, kindness, serving others. Yeah, like I said, we failed a lot in these areas. But we understood that the behavior you model carries more weight than the things you talk about believing in.
2) They have two parents that they witnessed getting up and going to work daily without fail. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your abilities to honor God (Colossians 3:23).
3) They have a mom and dad that stayed married and have been a consistent presence in their lives. Men and women have unique God-given traits that give them valuable strengths in different areas of parenting. It’s God’s design that man and woman raise children together. Doesn’t mean that people in alternative situations can’t do a fantastic job of raising kids. But God’s plan will always be superior. When mankind’s free will and sin alters God’s plans and makes a mess of things, it does not diminish the perfection of His plans.
4) We are a sports family. Doesn’t mean that everyone has to play or love sports. But it does mean that everyone has to respect rules and authority. Everyone has to be a team player, do their part and never fear doing more than their share. The world can get along fine without superstars but it’s always in need of more “great teammates”.
If you’ve benefited from growing up in a home where self-defeating values are avoided like the plague, what should you do? Apologize for it? Carry guilt for it? No, not hardly.
Maybe the best thing to do is repeat it with your kids. Take the things that your parents did well……..and repeat. Learn from the things your parents got wrong, and don’t repeat those same errors.
It’s heartbreaking to try to grasp the number of kids who are growing up in homes where the culture is lacking in love and gumption, and loaded with hopelessness. There are no easy answers, quick fixes, or government programs that can turn the tide for those kids.
But maybe a good step in the right direction would be instilling the value of every person thinking “I must be a better parent than my own were” (even if you were blessed with great parents).
Honest conversations about what is good and productive vs what is self-defeating……that would be a good start. Those conversations right now are hindered by a lot of nonsense about money, race, victimhood, and phrases like “victim blaming”.
Find out what works. Repeat it. Otherwise, we’re in danger of dividing up the population into two groups: 1) Those who plead for a permanent crutch or victim card, and 2) Those who self- congratulate for passing them out.
Go make your own privilege. It doesn’t cost a dime. And the further from God you walk, the harder it is to find it.