I was recently in a local store that sells items that have been bought from insurance claims, store closings, etc. It’s something like a flea market or yard sale where everything still has (most of) its packaging. I wasn’t shopping as much as spending time away from a few stressful situations. My wife and I call it “blowing the stink off.”
While “blowing the stink off” this particular afternoon I was an inadvertent witness to a conversation that went something like this:
“Mom, can I get this bike seat? It’s really cool!”
“That’s nice, but sweetheart, you don’t have a bike.”
“But mom, it’s really cool! And look at how it’s shaped. I bet it’s really comfortable. Please mom!”
I came to the end of the aisle they were on in time to see and hear this part of their conversation:
“Mom, I REALLY want it!!!!” The look on this child’s face was intense, there was no doubting that we really wanted this bike seat.
“Well, I guess you can get it...IF you have your own money.”
I tried hard not to faint from shock. Evidently I was not the only one who shared that feeling as the boy said “Well then I don’t want it” and forcefully tossed the seat back onto the shelf.
Did I mention that the “child” in question was a mid to late teenager and was bigger than both his mother and I. But he wasn’t deterred for long as I later saw them repeating the cycle over a bicycle.
Incidentally, they left without buying either.
My wife and I have somehow managed to navigate the waters of parenthood for four of our six children. The last two will soon join their siblings in adulthood (they are sixteen and eighteen years old) and move out of our home and into college life and beyond. The truth is that most of our work is done, we have moved into more of a supervisory role with them. This is both an exciting and sad time in our lives. We have enjoyed raising our kids and wish we had some more to raise.
Many times through the years I have been asked just what we have done to raise good kids. I used to tell people that we really weren’t sure, we just prayed a lot and weren’t afraid to discipline them when they got out of line. While that was true, the further truth is that we were much more deliberate than that. My wife and I spent many hours in discussions about our kids and our parenting, we looked at others and their kids, and we read books and talked with others.
In short, we approached raising our kids as both a privilege and a responsibility. We were never afraid to admit, to both ourselves and our kids, when we were wrong and we were always quick to give credit to where it was due....the other spouse and God. We are unashamed to say that we raised our kids in a Christian home, environment, and with an old-fashioned approach to education and religion. Our approach has always been that we were raising adults, not children. We have never made excuses for our kids...we have held them to a high standard and we weren’t afraid to demand more of them than they wanted to give at times. In short, we expected discipline in their work and in their lives.
So why have I written all of this? I have finally decided to write down some of the lessons about parenting that we’ve picked up through the last six kids and twenty-six years. The catalyst was the birth of our first grandchild. I hope that his parents will read these and perhaps gain a little wisdom that helped us get them to where they are today. So starting today and continuing on Friday and then on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays until I’m done I will blog about the principles that guided our child rearing experience. I share them with you in hopes of starting a discussion about this topic. Child rearing doesn’t come naturally and it isn’t easy... it takes hard work and commitment and decisiveness.
I hope you will read and interact with me...maybe something special is about to happen.