Am I spoiled? Hmmmm, let me think. If you would have asked me this question as a kid, I think I would have said, “absolutely not.” While my friends got the latest He-Man action figures, I got books at the book-mobile. (For those non-rural folks, a book-mobile is a traveling library.) While my peers were playing Mario Brothers, I was adhering to my parent’s strict “no video games” rule. Sugar cereal? Are you kidding? Cheerios boasts 1 gram of sugar. As my friends traveled between the homes of divorced parents, enjoying two closets and two Christmases, I was gagging over the sight of my parents’ kissing in the kitchen. While my classmates served alcohol at their parties and were encouraged to experiment with drugs and sex, I had a curfew and parents who checked every single time to see if I was where I was supposed to be.
My parents did not bail me out of tough situations. They allowed me to learn. If I forgot to do my homework, they allowed me to take the consequence. If I wanted a new cool jacket, my parents allowed me to get a job and save my money. If I came home late for curfew, I got grounded. If I was unhappy with a teacher, a coach, or a friend, my parents encouraged me to confront the person face to face, talk through the situation and come up with a solution. If I hurt someone, they allowed me to apologize in my own time, even if it took a decade. (One time, it did take me 10years to apologize. They forgave me, both for the infraction and my bull-headedness) If I was grounded for a week, I stayed grounded for a week. No more, no less and no bringing it up again later.
If I had a tough day my mom listened and allowed me to talk. During one particular difficult time in high school, my dad discerned that I needed some encouragement. I came home from school and went to my room to find a note written on a napkin. It said, “ Kristin, this made me think of you today.” Scrawled below was a Scripture that was perfect for the situation.
When my husband and I lost our last pregnancy, I sent my mom a text while I sat in the doctor’s office. The baby’s heart was no longer beating and I was unable, and unwilling, to talk. The text I got back said, “I’m so sorry, my bag is packed, I’m getting in the car right now. I’ll be there in 4 hours.” Another text a few minutes later asked, “Is that ok?” Of course it was ok. I needed my mom and she came.
This past summer our family had to cancel our summer vacation. We had been planning the trip for over a year. My sister’s family was planning to meet us at a cabin in Tennessee. We knew we couldn’t swing the time away from my new job or the cost. I was feeling really sad. I felt I had let my entire family down by backing out of the trip and I was feeling pretty low. Without ever telling my parents how bad I was feeling, they sensed it anyway. A few days later we received this invitation:
Dear Berry Family
You are Invited
To the Schultz Family Hotel
On the days of Your choosing
Included: Meals, Beds, Swimming, Hiking,
Hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa
We had one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. Our entire family enjoyed geo-caching, swimming in the pool, trips to the local playground, movies on Netflix. The adults enjoyed late nights sitting around the dining room table drinking wine, eating snacks and laughing long after the kids had gone to bed.
Am I spoiled? I asked myself this again as my parents pulled into the driveway this week. I was taking the trash out as they came around the corner. I dropped the bag quickly into the bin and walked toward the car to meet them. Before I could hug my mom and dad, the front door burst open and out spilled 6 giddy children. One grabbed my dad’s leg, the other jumped into my mom’s arms and still another dropped to the ground and pressed her face into the fur of my parent’s dog Sophie. “I missed you!” “I love you!” “I’m so glad you’re here.” “Want to see my spelling test?” “Look at the art project I’m making.” I followed behind the happy crowd and closed the door behind me. I realized I have the answer.
No, I’m not spoiled. I am loved, encouraged, prayed for and supported. That is the gift my parents have given to me. That’s the kind of parent I want to be.
What kind of example did you have growing up. Good? Bad? How have you learned to parent because of, or in-spite of, the example you had? Share with us.