|Noah and his Hannah|
Hannah is living at home, working full-time, and recently started grad school at Western Michigan University in a specialty program for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Her passion is social work and many of our conversations center around that passion. Last week I had the opportunity to drive with Hannah to Lake City, MI to visit Bob's mom. On the way back we had an interesting conversation that went something like this:
Hannah: What I don't understand is what people's objectives
are for their children. Is it only for them to be happy? Or for them to also be well-adjusted, contributing members of society?
Renita: Well-adjusted, contributing members of society would be great. But, wait a minute, are you saying that your childhood wasn't happy? (Pause)
Renita (cont'd): It's not like we moved from the countryside into a high crime urban neighborhood with drug houses and prostitution on our street when you were four years old.....oh yeah...we did...(pause)
...It's not like we sent you to a failing closing public school for which your dad lost his job, and you and your brother were the only white children when you were eight years old....oh yeah...we did...(pause)
...It's not like we moved you to a war torn country where there was no running water or electricity when you were twelve years old...oh yeah...we did...(pause)
...It's not like you lost an important family member when you were sixteen years old....oh yeah...you did...(pause)
...Well, ummmmm... at least I didn't sell you into the sex trade!
Hannah: But that's the thing, Mom. It was challenging to be sure, but you and Dad were always there for me (well, until Dad was not). All decisions were made together through discussion. And you processed everything with us. Too many parents seek only their children's happiness and comfort, and fail to produce well-adjusted contributing members of society. Part of the reason that my childhood was happy was because I learned very early on that you respected me and I learned to respect you. Respect was a mutual expectation. I was happy to hang out at home because I loved being with you guys. I feel that the problem with many parents is that they come down too hard on the happiness or too hard on the discipline, but if you have mutual respect you don't have to come down hard on either side. Don't get me wrong, I thought some of your rules were unfair growing up, but it was not because you didn't explain them to me but because I thought I was smarter than your rules. Also, I know that even though we discussed the rules, the rules weren't up for discussion. There was consistency and an intentional consciousness of everything we did.
It is fun to have adult conversations with my children and to hear their perspective on their childhood. Bob and I sometimes wondered whether our call to the mission field was going to be more about them then about us and any work we might accomplish. Lots of these things are only seen in hindsight, so at age 23 and 21 it still is probably to early to tell. But I continue to thank God for the privilege of knowing Hannah and Noah and trust their Heavenly Father to meet their needs according to His riches in glory!