Success as a Parent:
Mother’s Day has come and gone,
and we often feel just like Calvin’s mom…
Every parent has this fear,
if they are any kind of parent at all.
They will fail their job of raising a child successfully into adulthood!
(Click here for Audio Version) You see, you were raised and trained a certain way by parents who were raised and trained a certain way, ad naseum. Roll the clock into a future time, and you develop your own view of child rearing and then raise and train your children a certain way. You proudly watched them enter adulthood and start making their own choices, and even may begin training and raising their own brood. Some of their choices are satisfying, and you see much of yourself and your personal heritage in their path. While other choices literally scare you to death!
By the ending of your life, you hope, that it all washes out in the end and your children end up being the best person they were meant to be.
An even deeper reality might be that you are probably just as worried how you will be viewed by your family and friends, more than you are worried about the choice your kids make. Were you a success? Or an utter failure? I’ve learned that when I start judging people by the choices their adult kids make, I am doing them a huge disservice. They have probably done as admirable a job as possible, but kids grow up and become a product of the choices they make in life. Despite, and without, any influence from you…
I’m just saying. The true product of our lives are often those that take our family name into the next and subsequent generations. We are concerned how we will be viewed in the future. While it is completely true there are some cycles that we want to see stopped (and all kinds of abuse words come into my thoughts right now), but we also want to see the good propagated into the future.
I was researching the children’s author, P.D. Eastman, attempting to get an understanding of his family heritage, and there was nothing to note of his family tree, other than his parent’s names. Maybe you can find more than the single sentence I found, but nothing in my research touched his childhood, background, family life… Nothing. It made me more curious about his heritage and what made him become the successful screen writer, children’s author, and illustrator.
His book, “Are You My Mother”, “Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.” It was one of the “Top 100 Picture Books” of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.” [Source]
Success may not include documenting your life, according to what we find for Eastman. But in my life, that’s not so. I share all the good things my parents did that produced the person I am. I take ownership of my choices, good and bad, and do not place blame on anyone else but myself. Nor am I interested in publicizing the negative. That’s between me and my memory bank! I’m proud of my heritage. I hope I do it right by continuing the legacy that began so many years ago. Am I the same person I would have been had I been raised in the early 1900’s like my grandparents? Probably not. Each of us have challenges along the generation and culture curve we live in, but I would like to think the person I am is the person I would have hoped to have been those 100 odd years ago.
In a far different century and culture, Solomon teaches us there is a way to train and raise a child.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)
Many think this is a spiritual training alone, but knowing the life of Solomon…I’m not so sure. The word for “train” essentially comes from a word that means “to narrow“, and is figuratively used to “initiate or discipline“. And, the operative word is child, by indication, an active child from the age of infancy to adolescence, and that reference has often been connected to that of a servant.
Take special notice, there will come a time that the child is past adolescence and responsible for their own choices, and you will probably be less able to narrow their path into a productive life.
So. Take the individual child and narrow the world before him/her so that they will naturally walk the path that befits them as an individual. And not necessarily your version of the end result of the child. Each child is unique, and the tools of the trade to raise and train said child is as unique as the child them self. I take this to mean, I do not force the child down a training path that is not right for the uniqueness of said child. Some kids require specialized attention and are incapable of doing some things.
Now, before you excuse poor training on “just doing what’s best for the child,” think about what you are allowing for the child in their future world. It is almost like putting a name on them that inherently makes them least popular or successful because of the moniker you chose. (I’m thinking about Johnny Cash’s song, “A Boy Named Sue“) When you do not narrow their world of behavior, or action, or training, you are perpetuating their childhood actions into adulthood with some really bad habits and choices.
Then you are probably not the successful parent you wish you had been!
We all reach a spot in life with the common thought, “If Only….”, you know, if only I hadn’t done this, gone there, allowed this, that and the other. If only I had corralled them better, or disciplined them better, or… You will live your life in the doldrums of “If Only…”
Doldrums: “a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.”
Here’s My Thought: You want to be a successful parent? Then do not do it on your own! Seek out Godly and Thoughtful advice from trusted resources. Read, ask questions, and read some more. Find a trusted mentor that you can follow. Find examples of others who are doing a good job of rearing their children, and find out from them what works, and what doesn’t.
Do not let the child be the one in charge. That’s your job! Do not mature them sooner than they are ready, again, that’s part of your job!
Will you make mistakes along the way? Sure will. Every parent I know has and will continue to do so. We are far from perfect. But take ownership of your choices, whether good or bad, on how you raise your child. Pray for yourself to make good choices, pray for your child to heed good choices made for them. Pray for them everyday as they mature into and through adulthood! Be there as they age, but do not smother them with unwanted advice. Do not turn your back on them. Love them. Respect their choices, but keep your prayers heaven bound.
Here are two wonderful quotes from President Abraham Lincoln that tells me what his mom did in his early life made a great impact on the person he seems to have been destined to become.
- “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
- “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
I pray that the next generations of those reading my blog will do what’s best, and right, for the child they are responsible for…and hear them make some marvelous statements like President Lincoln…
I’m Praying for you!