Mary and I are talking for 5 minutes tonight at a Parenting Course.
We’ve scripted it to finish on time, but mostly to ensure we avoid telling people what to do or say. Especially what they should say. We’ve actually been asked by people how we managed to bring up four children to be such lovely adults, all talented, all married, and all Christians. Those four questions made me think, because I had never thought about the last three, and the last two felt intuitively like the “wrong question”. So we’re going to share a few interesting choices that we made personally, but in terms of “achieving a successful outcome” I’d really rather not think in those controlling terms.
Parenting is not a job with objectives and measurements, it’s a relationship with (ultimately) independent people. In absolute terms, the deepest and most fulfilling journey is the one to find yourself and God; the second would be a marriage. As for the children (at best third in this league table) they will ignore everything we say and ignore everything we do unless it is endorsed by who we really are. The one percent we know about anything certainly does not include whether people are a product of their own nature, or their parents’ nurture, but any significant parental influence will be by example; through applying their deepest values and beliefs to their most significant relationships. In a nutshell, our children will be informed how to live primarily, and inescapably, from the example of their parents’ relationship with each other, and perhaps their parents.
So, our children don’t need many words or much worry. They don’t even need to see perfect harmony. But they do have to see two imperfect people working through differences, putting the other first, and getting to grips with honesty, grace, and forgiveness. So if I wanted to be a great parent, I’d soak up The Marriage Course before I tried The Parenting Course.