Our Children Are Watching!
A dear friend of mine recently helped her family celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. She asked me to help her translate her speech into Spanish that her parents might fully understand what their marriage means to her and her siblings.
I cried as I translated her beautiful words. Why? For many reasons, one is because my own parents were denied that milestone. Another is because I am a sucker for love stories, but most of all because I truly felt the spirit of love in which those words were written, and I appreciated the example given by those wonderful parents to their child.
Years ago, I remember my father’s younger brother, a successful physician, saying to me that when he was a young father, he had met a man who had taught him a valuable lesson. My uncle recalled how shortly before Christmas that year, he had mentioned his need to leave the hospital in time to get some presents for my cousins.
The young man, scion to a large fortune, asked calmly. “ How old are your children?” When their ages were given, he continued, “ If you don’t mind, I would like to give you an advice. Never buy them a toy you do not intend to play with. What your children need the most is you, not what your money can buy for them.”
That young man’s wisdom was probably hard earned. I have known many wealthy parents who in their eagerness to make more money, neglected the most important duty of all, to nurture their children. A friend of mine, heir to a well-known family of Hollywood fame, confided in me her long held sadness in an attempt to explain why she felt so alone now in maturity. She told me how, the youngest of four, she would find only an army of servants waiting for her after school, her older siblings being away in Switzerland and Canada, and her parents traveling around the world. Her address was in an idyllic area surrounded by mansions, and most people would have considered her lucky, yet her happiest memories as a child were of the times when her swimming coach had invited her into his humble home for dinner and to play with his children who were near her age.
My other friend’s parents on the other hand, although poorer in means, were far richer in understanding. A phrase I remember from the speech I translated read, “Our parents gave us everything they had, and nothing was bought with money.”
How profoundly beautiful that is. I was blessed with similar parents, and I wish all children would be so blessed. A prophet of God once said, “ there was never a time when so much was needed in the homes of the Latter Day Saints and the world generally. Most of the ills that afflict the youth today are because the breakdown in the homes...strengthen your family ties and be mindful of your children...Be sure that the home is made the strong place to which children can come for the anchor they need in this day of trouble and turmoil.” President Harold B. Lee
Bearing children is the easy part, being a real parent who sacrifices and teaches and nourishes and disciplines and loves, is much harder, but oh, so worth it. Children will watch our example and either follow it or disregard it, but having given it is what is important.
It will matter to them who will remember it. It will shape their lives for better or worse. It will protect or destroy. Whether it is an example of love, service and sacrifice or an example of pain, selfishness and neglect will depend on what kind of parents we wish to be, and the legacy we leave behind.
ER! Thank you for giving me a glimpse of why you turned out to be such an awesome human being. Congratulations and blessings to your parents. And to all the other parents who may read this, please don’t drop the ball. Make parenting your ultimate duty, and good parenting your ultimate goal.
This is just my opinion...
As a single woman, a Mormon and a western/Chinese doctor.