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What Does It Take To Raise A Respectable Adult?
Put any group of people together with a young child and you’re bound to hear something along these lines:
“You shouldn’t let her speak to you like that.” or “If my child did that I would…”
These are the words that every parent dreads which is why this tweet, by Jamie Wright, got my attention:"I never ask other parents for parenting advice. Instead I look for adults I admire and ask what their parents did."
This advice just made sense to me.
It removes the need to compare your parenting skills to other parents, families and children. Which is good because comparison never makes a person happy, and I’ve never known it to make a good parent either.
Secondly, most parents want their children to grow up to be good people. They want their children to become adults that other people admire and look up to. So finding out what shaped people like that is a good place to start.
Finally, often what parents think they’re doing right in raising a child isn’t actually the thing that impacts a child’s life the most. Often it is the little things, the casual comments or unimportant events that most shape us into the people we become.
Here are 8 thoughts from adults I admire on what their parents did right:
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1. They were present
Don’t overestimate the importance of just being there with your children. Tracy Steel, an Air Force wife and mother of two, recalls that having her parents available when she needed someone to listen or to talk showed her that they were present. Tracy says this made her feel that she was a priority and prized by them.
Raymond Kroger, a civil engineer, points out that a child never grows out of this need to know that their parents are available. He says, “I’ve really appreciated how I can now approach my dad and ask him advice on life – I suppose parenting continues in a sense.”
2. They allowed me make my own decisions
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Rene Kruger says one thing her parents did right was let her make her own decisions. In fact this trait was mentioned by a number of the adults I spoke to. One of the adults spoke about how as a child she was never taught to make decisions but rather expected to just do whatever she was told. She says that even now, thirty years later, she still struggles to make decisions because she didn’t learn the skill as a child.
3. They taught me what grace means
The flipside many of the adults mentioned of allowing children to make their own decisions is having the grace to support them. When asked what her parents did right, Bridgette Erdey a Press Officer for a Christian record label responded, “They supported me through my greatest triumphs and my most monumental mistakes. They've taught me grace by example.”
Pamela Bridges, a mother of three and pastor’s wife, shares that her Mom taught her to rely on Jesus for that strength. Pamela shares, “It was okay to be human and make mistakes, but by golly, you get back up and do it again, face your giants side by side with God, with His armor and in His power and to rest Him afterwards.”
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4. They passed on their faith
“My parents passed on their faith in a very natural, real way.” says Aldyth, a grandmother and author. “They were NEVER preachy. I learnt how to pray and trust God for my needs by watching them. I always heard them praying together at the end of every day. I also saw how much they read their Bibles.”
Her parents’ strong relationship with Jesus also stood out for Jeannette Harbottle, a mother of three grown children recalls, “I always knew Jesus was the most important person in the family. My first memory is my Mum leading a Bible Club in our lounge and singing ‘How did Moses cross the Red Sea?’ and ‘Jesus is my shepherd, guess who I am? Such a lovely secret I’m His little Lamb.’”
Art Ziegler credits his mothers’ strong faith with his choosing good friends growing up, “For me it was my mother taking me to church. There I found good friends. I learned about faith & the joys God brings to life.”
5. They taught me integrity
The CEO of a charity, Rachel O’Conner is grateful that her parents taught her to live with integrity. “My parents were strong on teaching me the value of commitment; my yes was yes, no questions asked,” she recalls.
6. They taught me how to manage money
Lara Bruggeman, mother of two and a worship leader says she is thankful that her parents taught her to be responsible with money. “My dad, as a business man, gave me a monthly sum of money and I had to manage my own finances from 14-years-old. I had to budget every month and show him my spending. I sat with him monthly and we looked at my accounts. I am really grateful for that, at the time, I hated it, but I am so careful with money and always think before I spend. My husband loves me for this!”
7. They showed me the importance of persevering
Pamela Bridges believes one of the gifts her parents gave her while raising her was that they didn’t allow her to have an easy out. “Not giving up taught me to be strong. This has stood me in great stead, as I've had to push through tough times or sickness and not given up!” Pamela recalls, “Having my parents example of perseverance inspires me to keep going, and hopefully share this perseverance with my children, knowing that perseverance produces character, and character hope that doesn't disappoint us because it is based on God's incredible, perfect love!”
8. They let me know they loved me
Every single respondent said, in some way or another, that one of the things their parents did right was let them know that they were loved.
What if I have nothing good to say about how I was raised?
Then there are all the people I approached to share what their parents did right who quietly told me they would rather not say anything, that they had nothing good to say about how they were raised, that they were not sure their parents did anything right.
These people are people I admire too. They have become good people despite (or perhaps because) of everything their parents did wrong.
I mention this because sometimes parents put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect.
I bring this up because you need to know that even if you aren’t the perfect parent – and you aren’t because she doesn’t exist - you can still raise a good kid, an adult others will admire and respect.
So, don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t turn this list into something to beat yourself over the head with or try to aspire to. Instead, let it encourage and inspire you as a parent, and trust that God will do as he says in Philippians 1:6 - "..[H]e who began a good work in you (including parenthood) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
What do you think your parents did right? Share it in the comments!
Wendy van Eyck is proudly South African and lives in Johannesburg where she runs a 24-hour Gospel Music Television channel that broadcasts to 47 African countries. Her website www.ilovedevotionals.com features devotionals that range from learning about God while doing laundry to discovering biblical truths while caring for her cancer fighting husband. Follow her on twitter: @wendyvaneyck or find her on Facebook.