How many times did I teach my children the same principle? And how many times did I remind them of what was required, and what was expected? Probably just as often as I was reminded when I was a child and adolescent. Teaching a child correct habits and behavior is paramount to their life success. Teaching goes with the territory of good parenting. The difficult part is reminding them patiently and without judgment. Yes, that is definitely the difficult part.
“Be kind.” “Hang up your clothes.” “Go outside to wrestle.” “Do your homework.” “Share.” “Stand up straight.” “Did you floss?” “Get your work done.” “Chew with your mouth closed.” “Wipe your feet.” “Close the door.” “Make your bed.”…. Does any of this sound familiar?
My husband repeats this couplet quite often to me:
[Children] must be taught as if you’ve taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot. (Alexander Pope)
We teach and nurture with the hopes that when our children mature and leave home our teachings will follow them out the door? We can hope and pray so. But simply because our children turn 18 and go on to college or the military or to their own apartment doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aware of the occasional teaching opportunities. We need to be aware that at this point of their lives they are being influenced and taught by their roommates, fellow students, professors, bosses and work associates. These “influencers” may have a completely different set of values and principles guiding their behavior in life.
Because our eighteen to twenty-five year old children are still learning, and they are still learning… our influence is still important. I’m not advocating “helicopter parenting,” but the decisions made during that crucial 18-25+ year period will have lasting impact on our children’s futures. Because they are still our children, we can’t have the mind set, “My work is finished…they are on their own.” Unfortunately society and the media target the 18-25+ year old audience with much that entices and attracts, but which also misleads and even destroys.
Just last night we received a phone call from one of our adult children that signaled red flags on the near horizon. Concern kept me awake until well past midnight, so I decided to write a letter to my 30+ year-old son.
Again the couplet spoke to me…
Men must be taught as if you’ve taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.
My letter was a reminder to:
Prioritize your life.
Family comes first.
Pride will blur your vision of the most important goals and purposes in your life right now.
Eliminate everything unnecessary that is causing stress.
Don’t run faster than you have strength.
Focus on the most important.
Work to balance your life.
My husband will follow up with a phone call to our son after he has had time to read my letter. Hopefully my advice will ring true to his core beliefs. He has been taught these principles, but the difficult situation he is battling has caused him to forget.
I strongly believe that the teachings in the home become an integral part of our children’s lives. If at some point they become distracted and forget those teachings, eventually they will come back to that grounding given in a loving home. That belief has given me a lot of hope as I have experienced disappointment with some of my children’s decisions. It’s more than a responsibility…it’s my duty to love them, encourage them, and continue to council and advise. Good parenting never ends. The demands change from being physically exhausting to emotionally exhausting, and these precious children are worth it all.