We did a great job with our kids–except when we didn’t, which was too much of the time. I’d like to say that we had few glitches along the way, but our children would laugh.
FIRST, OUR FAILURES
- We had people living in our home from the get-go. Hey, we don’t recommend it. We should have concentrated more on our children, but we were a community, and until we moved to Minnesota, the extended family ate with us. Kids need focus. The extra crowd deflected the attention that could have been on our children.
- We did not mentor them. Wish I knew then what I walk in now. Everyone needs a coach, someone to look after them, encourage them, ask questions, guide them along the way. Of course, we did this, but not nearly enough. I take that job seriously now, both with our adult children and with the men I mentor.
- We did not do home-school well. We needed to have helped them more. They were too much on their own. We failed in some ways with their education.
- We did not learn vulnerability soon enough, not until they had all started their own families, and it came first through Andrew our firstborn, not me. Now I am vulnerable, and it serves me well in mentoring.
- We disciplined them in love. Some exceptions, but I don’t remember ever disciplining them with my voice or in anger. Spankings were sometimes tender moments.
- We ate and prayed together. Attendance was required. They took turns at dinner picking the subject for discussion out of the jar. Erikka told me recently, “The reasons we all like to get together now is that you made us eat together and read the Bible together.” Devotions at 7 AM. Everyone came. We sang together. That carried over into singing together at the Holy Spirit Conference occasionally and sometimes at other places where I was speaking. Several continue to share in worship leadership.
- We had high-powered vacations. Much fun, great unity, trips to an island in Canada (thanks to generous friends), a camp in Montana, DC, California, the North Shore. We still go there together and spend three days hiking, playing games, & riding four-wheelers with grandchildren.
- We laughed a lot. When the kids were young, Karis and Mom listened to the Moody Bible Institute every morning, but we howled at what Karis at age five incorrectly called it: Moody Instanta Bible Toot. Karen listened to radio programs with most of them, some daily like Elizabeth Elliot, others like Odyssey weekly, concluding with the Saturday morning march with pots and pans.
- Church was a non-negotiable. It stuck. They not only share in leadership but are all part of a small group (I think).
- We told them they were here to serve, not to be served. They tended to be popular, and I said, “Hang with the kids who are rejects, and you’ll have God on your side. He is near the brokenhearted.”
- We didn’t always solve their problems. Sometimes we asked them how they were going to solve them.
All our kids are doing better than how we did at their age. We are thankful that they have not adopted our failures but have learned from them.