Saturday morning began with a men’s ministry breakfast. I was my father’s guest at an event with speaker/comedian Thor Ramsey. Thor left his comedy set at home and spoke on the topic of a man’s heritage.
He opened with an anecdote from his childhood. He was playing with his friends when one of them suggested that they pretend to be their dads. Each of them immediately started cursing up a storm. When Thor’s dad stopped them to ask what they were doing, Thor responded, “We’re just acting like our dads.” As such, his father could not be upset, regardless of whether it was right or wrong for young kids to spew swear words like so much half-digested candy on Halloween night.
His point was that our children will act like us. If that is the case, who is the parent that we are acting like? If we say we are Christians, we should be acting like Christ. If we are children of Adam’s fall from grace, we will be stuck in a cycle of trial, failure, and disappointment.
That was part one. Part two happened on Sunday morning.
My wife and I had nursery duty in church, which consisted of watching our own kids plus three others. There was a two-year old boy, a one year old girl, and a boy of four who would have been better off with the older kids in the class next door.
The little ones in the room did amazingly well. There were no tears or fights, just giggles and block-building fun. But the four-year old boy might well have been my comic book nemesis. He threw toys. He climbed furniture. When confronted, he acknowledged his actions but justified them as though he were doing the world a favor by ignoring the rules.
Now, before I had kids, I was always in the nurture camp of Nature vs. Nurture. And then my wife and I had super-girly girls that love pink and purple and princesses and such, none of which are Viking related in the least. So perhaps the four-year-old boy was somehow hard-wired to press my buttons.
Whatever the situation, whether he had learned his actions from a parent, like Thor Ramsey did, or whether naughtiness was in his genetic makeup, like the love of pink dresses is with my girls, I struggled to remember that God loves naughty little boys as much as the rest of us (listen to me, acting like I wasn’t a naughty little boy at one time or another).
As a parent, I believe that it is my job to show my kids the actions that I want to them to emulate, and to equip them with the tools they need to overcome the baser parts of my nature. And unfortunately, that isn’t and won’t be an easy task. I’m always learning of ways that I fail, but in doing so, I’m also learning of ways to improve.
I have a feeling that I’ll always be in Parenting 101. But if the alternative is flunking out and losing my chance to be a parent, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.