lots of my parenting choices were…uh…unorthodox. i used to drive wanda crazy by things i would do with chris and corey. i constantly broke parenting rules. i loved to come up with goofy punishments when they would act up…and then try to keep from laughing.
i loved being a dad. i could never turn down the invitation to play catch in the afternoon or to stay up way too late talking on a school night. i can still remember times that wanda would come out of the bedroom half-asleep and ask, “do you know what time it is?” i would reply, “geez, wanda. it’s only midnight. we’ll be done soon.” man, i miss those days!
speaking of school and school nights, i never really got along with the schools my boys went to.
don’t get me wrong. i love the public school. for nearly 40 years, it has been my primary mission field. teachers are some of the most underpaid, under-appreciated servants in our society. coaches and band directors and counselors and administrators serve as some of the greatest motivators and role models that kids could ever have.
but i never bought the idea that the school had the right to tell me what i could and couldn’t do with my kids. the demands of homework and test scores and budget-driven attendance never scared me. if i wanted to spend time with my boys, it was my business. the school did not own them. and i never hesitated taking them out of school for something better.
when there were significant experiences that wanda and i deemed life changers, we made sure they got to do them…even if the school told us “no”. we always worked with teachers to get homework assignments ahead of time and pushed hard to do above and beyond before and after.
but the school did not own them.
i’ve always believed the most important thing a parent can do is to place their kid in the best position to choose a life of faithfulness to god when they get out on their own. we can’t choose for them. their faith is their faith…not ours. when they are young, we need to provide them every possible experience we can…to give them the best foundation possible…to be men and women of faith when they grow up.
it is more important than grades. it is more important than making the team. it is far greater than teaching them a work ethic.
i’ve always been at odds with parents who punished their kids by “restricting” them from youth group activities as a form of discipline. i’ve never understood parents who would spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars (or even 1000’s) on tutors and private dance lessons and hitting instruction and music classes and band camps and vacations to the gulf…but were the same parents who complained about spending a few hundred for their kid to go on a mission trip or a spiritual life conference with the youth group.
look, parents…you have no control over what your kids do when they grow up and leave the house. not with their faith or their character or their choices. you only have control over what you expose them to and encourage them to do when they are young and underneath your roof.
why not give them every possible chance to learn about god and his word and his church that you can? at least you could consider elevating the importance of faith development to the level of…say…their SAT scores? whatta you think?
the irony? for all my griping about the public school and their over-inflated view of their own importance…both of my boys became public school teachers.