My family wasn’t a perfect one. (I’m certain my dad and mom would say the same.) But they did make sure it was extremely purposeful. My parents worked hard to intentionally and deliberately create an environment in which they could transfer to my siblings and me the principles they believed.
And yet it’s often only with the hindsight of age that a child can truly begin to appreciate and understand the effort and initiative involved in a process like this. The more years that gather behind me, the more easily I can recognize the sacrifice and diligence that such intentional parenting requires, not to mention how critical it is to giving a child any chance at maturing into a successful adult. I didn’t really get it at the time. I found the boundaries and discipline of our upbringing to be staunch and alien to others. But I get it now.
I get it.
Daddy and Mommy constructed a bubble of sorts for us to live in. Home life was padded with instruction in God’s Word, discipline in life lessons (like saving and tithing our money), manners (“No elbows on the table!”) and good work ethics. We had lots of fun with our friends, but we did it mostly at our home instead of theirs, my parents careful about the kinds of influences we might encounter somewhere else. Sure, that meant taking on the exhausting work of having a dozen sweaty teenagers track muddy prints in and out of the kitchen for snacks and Kool-Aid during games of basketball and ping-pong. But our parents did it for a reason. And they did it for us.
When we weren’t at home, we were at church or at school—a simple, quaint, Christian school that reinforced the lessons taught at home. Public school came later, during the high school years. But even then, my parents were very involved in our studies and our friendships. Watching. Stewarding. Shepherding.
They just seemed to have this knowing inside—a deep, inner consciousness about the culture. They knew their job as parents couldn’t be passive. They knew they needed to fight aggressively against the low values and standards of the common crowd, the crude lasciviousness that was trying to creep into our minds and hearts, our attitudes and opinions, our actions and emotions.
So they put on their gloves . . . and fought.
And now that I’m older, I’m grateful for it. I can see it all more clearly. I recognize the wrinkles around the eyes that were whittled out of long nights and loving discipline.
In fact, never thought I’d say this, but . . . I want those wrinkles too. And I’m working on them as hard as I can.
That’s why I’m sitting these three sons of mine around a dinner table tonight, just like my parents did, and teaching them God’s Word. I’ll not allow myself to be lulled to sleep and disengage from their education, their friendships, their influences. And together with their father, I’ll be intentional and purposeful in their lives every precious day that God gives us to share with them under our roof, until they spread their wings and fly out of this nest—off to their own where, hopefully, the cycle will continue all over again.
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