My mother had a list of skills she wanted all of her kids to learn. On that list were: more than one sport, public speaking, debate, music, specifically the piano, and then swimming.
If you think that I am inferring that I and my seven siblings all have these skills, you would be correct. We all took swimming and one sport during the summer, piano lessons and another sport during the school year, and eventually all competed in national speech and debate. My mom is awesome.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “I won’t do what my parents did to me to my kids?” If you are a parent, you may have heard this quite a bit. In other words, many parents, if not all, get their experience as a child and decide what they liked or not, and then base their own parenting off those experiences. Now, I cannot speak from a parents point of view, because I am not a parent.
What I can do, is talk about why we have such a strange mentality. I want to pose the question, why do kids come up with this list of do’s and don’ts in parenting?
Listening to a radio show, I heard this odd program when a mom came on the show (I love it when real people come onto radio shows btw). The mom in question is an empty nester who was shedding some light on how parenting works as children get older and move out. Unlike the original perception, parenting does not ‘end’ when the kids move out. I cannot remember all the moments when my mom got off the phone and laughingly noted that the kids in college needed the most parenting. I know for a fact that my oldest two brothers, who are both married and have moved far away, still call regularly for advice and input from my parents.
No. Apparently, parenting never ends.
So, it struck me as odd when the mother on this radio show said, “when your adult children reach the age of about twenty-five and have moved out officially, they come to you with ‘the list’. It’s the list of all the things you did right and all the things you did wrong as a parent.”
It surprised me because I actually have thought about that exact thing: a list of parenting do’s and don’ts. For one, I would attempt to keep as close to my mother’s list of skills she wanted all of us to have growing up. Why? Because they are all practical and have served me well. Secondly, three out of the four siblings who have moved out of the house are now pursuing one of the things on the skill list. My oldest brother is studying law at Georgetown University, putting his passion for speaking and debating into practice. The next brother went a completely different route and pursued music, even studied in Great Britain for a few years, and is now a worship and youth pastor at a church. My older sister is a nurse and studying to has a degree in communication. I have a lot of brothers. The next brother is studying business. The point is, all of us have taken some variation of the skills we were required to learn.
Although, at the time, none of us wanted to wake up and practice at 7 am in the morning, the rhythm we acquired through studying piano turned us all into natural musicians. In addition, most of us have a natural ear for notes because we studied the sounds since age six. Also, it’s pretty chill having family jams because everyone built off someones rhythm on the kitchen table.
It is a great thing when you wake up and realize that the skills you whined about learning and practicing actually are useful!
Why would we make lists of things we should or shouldn’t do? Well, as a beloved character from John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series once said, “the grass is always greener on the other side. Or, you always want what you haven’t got.” Ok. More people than that have used the phrase, but I like the way John Flanagan puts it. We compare everything. Face, looks, build, makeup, skills, etc. Why would we not try to compare families too? I know too many people who hear my description of my family and say that my family sounds perfect. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are sinners, all of us, and even the families that look great from the outside are just as messed up as everyone else.
No person is perfect. No mom or dad is perfect. The only thing we can be is to attempt to be more like Christ.
1 John 2:6
“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
Have you heard the statistic that states 80% if Americans claim to be christians? The interesting thing is this, it is just a claim. As we say in debate, a claim with no proof is just an assertion.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does itprofit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
So how do I know that a good majority of those 80% have no works? It seems to me that if 80% of people were actively pursuing helping each other, we would be able to tell. Unfortunately, I think many of us just go to church on Sundays, then do whatever we want the rest of the time.
Yes, I do that too. Just like I think about what I would do differently as a parent. But you know what? My mom said something that I find pertinent at the moment, “It’s one thing to say you will do certain things as a parent, but it’s a whole new ball game when you realize that’s your baby who came home from school saying and doing things you never taught them.”
I guess I cannot fully answer any question dealing with parenting, but then again, I don’t know how many questions I will be able to answer when I actually am a mom. For now, I do know that God has a plan for my life. I do know that a lot of things have helped me become who I am today. I do know that I am bound to mess up ( a lot ).
I do know that life is not a smooth ride, but that I will always have the power on my team. Never forget, you plus God is always a majority.
I didn’t really answer my original question. Maybe because I am a philosopher and answering the key questions is nearly impossible. However, I have one more story before I’ll be done!
The title, Shallow Breathing and Executive Diving, originated because today I went swimming. I am at a college campus, so they have a swim team. Therefore, there were competition prep boards in front of the lanes. BUT, they all had orange cones on them. Which is sad, because I wanted to use one. Any way, on the front it said this: “To be used only by competition trained swimmers. No diving. Only executive diving.”
I honestly thought this was hilarious, probably since I don’t know what executive diving is. Yup. That’s it.
Be blessed today.