Parents pass along all kinds of lessons to their kids. We teach manners, habits, life skills, and more. We want our kids to have every advantage and to start where we are, instead of where we were at their age.
My nine-year-old son was in flag football this year. At his first practice, one of the other kids was so nervous he cried. Several of the boys threw further than I could. My son was somewhere in the middle. I was so relieved that I hadn’t messed him up beyond hope!
I taught my daughter how to throw, though! If she’s mad enough to throw something, it’s safest to be her target. Where you’re standing is the only place it won’t go! That’s about all the athletic prowess I have to hand on to the next generation.
The other day, I was quizzing my fourteen-year-old to help her get ready for her driver’s permit test. I asked:
“What would you do if you got a flat tire?”
“Pull over,” she replied. I’d mention she rolled her eyes, but she’s fourteen, so you shouldn’t need to be told that.
“Who would you call?” I baited.
“Triple A, I think?”
I paused, and asked, “wouldn’t you call your dad?”
“No,” she replied, “I’d call Papa because I would actually want my tire fixed.”
Obviously, I haven’t passed on much mechanical know-how, either. Plus, teaching my kids to be sarcastic was probably a mistake!
When my kids came to my office for Take Your Little Humans to Work Day, there was a computer programming portion. I asked my oldest daughter what language they programmed in for the exercise.
She replied, “English.”
I am a failure as a parent.
Other than grumpiness when short on sleep and the inability to put away what I just took out of the cupboard, I don’t think I’ve taught my children anything!
One day my young son had a hard time falling asleep. He was afraid of a crazy clown or a killer doll or something like that. I held him tight, I told him a story of how I accidentally saw a trailer for Child’s Play when I was his age and was traumatized for weeks. Then, we prayed together.
We asked Jesus to send his peace. We asked the Holy Spirit to help him let go of his scared feelings and give them to Jesus. We asked his guardian angel to hold his hand as he fell asleep. We asked St. Michael to beat the stuffing out of any psycho doll that wandered into his room.
I suppose it wasn’t the kind of prayer you find in a book. It was, however, from the heart. It also helped him feel safe enough to have a great night’s sleep.
Every night, we gather as a family to pray. It takes about fifteen minutes because we keep adding things. It’s the most motley collection of random prayers, songs, individual prayer, Latin during Lent, and spiritual goodness I could ask for. Tara and I both try to respond to life events with prayer. We pray when it’s good and we pray when it’s tough. We pray when we’re sad and when we’re afraid.
And our kids are learning it.
There is nothing so beautiful as hearing your child talk to God like a friend and realizing that you had some small part in teaching that.
Have you taught your kids this lesson? The great thing is you don’t need to be any good at it, you just have to do it where they can hear you. God’s grace will take care of the rest!