Monday, June 1, 2015

One of THE Best Gifts You Can Give Your Child....

The week before my wedding, my dad and I were on a lunch date and he looked at me and said, "Deanna, is there anything you wish I would have done better as a parent?  Is there anything I need to apologize for?"  "Hmmm.." I thought for a moment, "I wish you would have put me in sports. You saw I had musical talent and so that is all you encouraged me toward.  But I wish I would have also been encouraged toward being an athlete."  He looked at me with kind eyes and said, "You're right.  I am so sorry your mom and I didn't do that.  Will you forgive me?"  I laughed a little, as clearly this wasn't something that he needed forgiveness for.  Thinking through 21 years of growing up, and my one complaint was that my parents encouraged me toward what was clearly a special gift and didn't encourage me toward what was clearly not my gift?  I'd say we were doing alright.  ;)

The profound thing in that lunchtime moment, was that the question my dad asked me was absolutely, completely normal in our home.  My dad and mom would always check in with us.  They would always be seeking to 'right' any 'wrongs.'  I have such beautiful memories of my dad or mom walking into my room, sitting on my bed, and saying, "I'm so sorry for how I reacted in ---- situation today.  Will you forgive me?"  Or "I didn't handle ---- fairly today.  I'm so sorry.  Will you forgive me?"  There was no pride.  And if there was ever a moment when pride would try to sneak in, it was openly talked about.  I remember a few times my mom was struggling to admit fault in a situation where she clearly was in the wrong.  She kind of talked in circles and I remember my dad saying, "I feel like we're on the show 'Happy Days' and The Fonz won't admit he's wrong.  You know how he has to stutter it out "I was wr-wr-wr-wr-wrong."  We all laughed and that became a "thing" in our family for my mom.  If she would ever find herself talking in circles, trying to justify something she had done, she would pause and go, "OK.  I was wr-wr-wr-wr-wrong."   We laughed. And loved. And offered grace.

As a mom of 4 today, I now marvel at the incredible display of honesty, intentionality, and humility my dad and mom parented with.  When I think of the gifts I want to pass down to my kids, these rank on the top of the list.

This past week, Jon and I called a family meeting with our party of 6.  We had been sensing tension in our home.  Not a lot of patience, bad tone of voice, getting angry quick... the list of what we were seeing/experiencing was getting long.  We were definitely in need of a re-boot.  We sat down as a family and Jon and I started out by apologizing.  We confessed the areas where we were not being the best of who we are.  (impatient, frustration turning to anger, overreacting...) We gave specific instances.  We asked for their forgiveness.  Then we talked about the tone of our home and what we were seeing in the kids interactions with each other and us.  The kids joined the conversation and talked about where they thought they could improve - even apologizing to each other and us.  We set out a new plan.  Reminded ourselves of who we want to be.  And then we prayed together, asking God to help us to live that out.

The gift of humility in parenting is so important and so beautiful.  Our kids need to know we are not perfect.  They need to know that we need forgiveness just as much as they do.  They need to know that when they mess up, we are a safe place to come to and confess it.  Because we understand the desperation for grace.
And when we prove to be a safe, loving, grace-giver, we teach them to be safe, loving, grace-givers.  And this world begins to heal.  One person at a time.  One relationship at a time.
But it starts with me.  And you.
Maybe in a family meeting in your living room.
Or maybe at a coffee shop a week before your daughter's wedding.
It's never too late.  And it's never too early.

....Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me...


  1. Yes. I love this. Thank you for writing it. :)

  2. Linda Lee JohnsonJune 1, 2015 at 8:28 PM

    Oh, you make me wish I could start all over again, without the clinical depression, to raise my children the way you girls were raised and the way you are raising your children. I was always amazed at Carol's endless energy and creativity and wished God had made me just like her. But I'm me, and she is she, and I've come to accept who I am in God's sight. And I will never stop loving Carol and her daughters for the way God has created you all. Thanks for being part of my life. Linda