I was a good kid. Never had too many tantrums back in my day. Not that many angsty, screaming episodes in the family kitchen. Oh, I guess I bought the parents-just-don’t-understand as much as the next kid, but my childhood was pretty tame.
Becoming a parent teaches you a lot of things, primarily that offspring is one of God’s little reminders that you are totally messed up and unqualified for what He’s given you. (He’s good, that way.)
It also makes you value some of the special things your parents did and said way back when. I’d like to share some of the things my parents did right.
10. Forbid me from hanging out at the mall by myself. Yeah, lots of kids got dropped off at the mall to stroll up and down for a couple of hours every Friday night, but Donna & A.W. weren’t having it. They told me the type of kids who troll the mall on weekends tend to get in trouble and wreak havoc. They were right.
9. Let me be weird. I wanted a mullet? Sure. Need those airbrushed shoes from *B.J. Rags? Go for it. Listen to music that they did not understand nor appreciate? Right on. I was weird. I wanted to be cool, but a different kind of cool. I didn’t want to follow the crowd; I wanted to create my own. And they let me try.
8. Gave me candy. ‘Nuff said.
7. Put their foot down. My parents were always supportive, but there were a few moments of pure authoritative smack-down…like the time I told my mom I wanted to be a fashion designer and she spat “NO” in my face. I’d like to thank my mother for that.
6. Sang. My parents sang all the time. They were good at it. (Still are…) I realize that not everybody can – or wants to – sing, but it sure does make for a great childhood when your parents invite you to see and experience them doing something that they love.
5. Were always up for a party. My parents were party people. I can’t count the number of **pickins’ we had at our house or the late-night Sunday after church meals we shared with other families. Mom and Dad loved hanging out with their friends and were almost always up for kicking back with the people they loved.
4. Ran the fan club. No, I didn’t have an actual “fan club,” but I don’t remember one dream of mine that they squashed. If I wanted to try it, the let me. I have no doubt there were times where they laid in bed at night debating whether or not I would ruin my life with some stupid idea, but they never let it show. They were all in.
3. Made me laugh. No teenager is complete without drama, but my parents were great and making me laugh. Their little jokes and remarks gave me perspective that I desperately needed.
2. Loved my wife. When I met Kristen, it was a dream come true. But there was part of me that thought it was just too good. She was too pretty and too organized and too smart. I lived for a few months in fear that she’d stumble on somebody who was smarter or thinner or more together. But my parents knew. Right from the start, they told me, “she’s the one.” They liked hanging out with her and talking to her and their love for her was obvious.
1. Served in the local church. I don’t think there’s any job in the church that parents haven’t done. They did the big, noticeable stuff but also did the invisible, hard stuff. We were at church all the time and for most of those services/classes/meals/get-togethers, my parents served with fantastic attitudes. I’ll be lucky to do half the stuff they’ve done for the church in their lives.
I realize that I’m blessed. Not every family is healthy and beneficial. But for many of you out there, you could make your own list.
So…do! Open up your blog or Facebook and share a few things that your parents did right.
*B.J. Rags – this was essentially a “trend” shop in our mall. They sold brand name clothes for teenagers and had a decidedly surf-style decor.
**pickin’ – this is a characteristically “southern” event wherein men and women who play bluegrass music gather to jam through a catalog of songs that really aren’t all that different. Their families are forced to sit and listen to these musical sessions.