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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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An ode to parents

I want my children to have what I had

I just wanted to give my kids all the things I never had." I've heard this line before. But recently when I heard it, I became angry.

The woman who spoke it bemoaned the fact that she had worked two or three jobs and had done without many things so her child could go to a private school and have designer clothes and a car. Now she was faced with a smart-alecky daughter who had no respect for her, was into drugs and had sleepovers with her boyfriend.

I wanted to say to that mother that I wanted my kids to have exactly what I had as a child. My father was a policeman, and we had little money. But my parents gave me security in their love and a home where I always felt safe. They taught us that God and family come first. My parents took us to church; they didn't just drop us off at the door. They were active in our religious life.

My parents gave me evening trips to the river on hot summer days and fun on the best sledding hill in the neighborhood, with my friends always welcome. They gave me boundaries and the blessing, yes, the blessing, of good discipline when I needed it. They gave me a respect for family, one that drew in neighbors whom we grew to love as family.

My parents taught me the importance of volunteering to help others. When my daughters came of age, I knew my job included being a Sunday school teacher. I knew taking my children to the park was more important than housework. I knew I should be there when my daughters came home from school so I could hear their stories of the wonderment of learning or hold them because they had been teased that day.

As they got older, I knew they should be in confirmation class and I should be ready to talk over the questions they had when they came home. I needed to be there when they came home from dates and make sure they had that quarter in their shoe to call home if they needed me.

So you see, I knew exactly how to be a good parent beca
use I had great role models. Yes, I wanted for my girls exactly what I had as a child.


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September issue

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