Fifteen years ago, I wrote a column for the Abilene Reporter-News – a newspaper for which I still worked remotely as online content editor even though my family and I had moved from Abilene, TX to Little Rock, AR. (My blogging buddy Deana Nall used to write a wonderful, somewhat-similar column for her hometown newspaper, The Baytown Sun.) I thought I’d re-post a few of my entries, as she has occasionally done with some of hers. My column was called “Parenting on Purpose.” This was the second installment.
(originally published August 16, 2002)
A couple of weeks ago, families in our small group at church gathered in our living room to have a “parental blessing.” We’d been studying Christian parenting every Wednesday evening since September of last year and had come to the conclusion what we didn’t tell our kids often enough just how much we’re proud of them and why.
So six pairs of parents told our 15 children — ages 2 through 9 — exactly that. Together we gobbled down a potluck dinner where every family had contributed ingredients to curry chicken. The kids played together for a while, as they always do. Then we collected everyone.
The dads read a short scripture that has special meaning for them when they’re interacting with their kids. Every reading was different, and each one gave a little more insight about that family. Since our two children are adopted, I read from Romans 8 and told them that not only is the whole creation on the edge of its seat waiting for God’s adoption, but that I’m sure He is, too — because I know how their mom and I felt, waiting for those who calls from our adoption agency.
Each parent, in turn, told each of their children one or two reasons why we are so proud of them, right there in front of their friends and family. And every kid beamed when hugged and kissed and given a simple white ribbon that said, “#1 Kid.”
The reasons were as varied as the kids’ natures and interests. It took a while … 45 minutes or more. There was a little squirming, but for the most part the children were riveted by the events. Parents expressed pride in athletic and academic achievement … in hobbies and interests … in sweet natures and curiosity and compassion. The very youngest one — a precious little blonde-curled toddler — gave her daddy extra pride “because she’s always singing happy little songs about Jesus.” When she heard that, she giggled and did a little dance of joy.
We briefly thanked God for them and prayed His blessing on them throughout their whole lives. Then we let them go play together again. (While romping, one 7-year-old girl fell on our sidewalk and knocked out two loose front teeth. We all scoured the walk for the missing teeth so that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t pass her by.)
Nobody complained that it took too long. None of the kids asked how they could all be “#1 Kid.”
Maybe curry chicken isn’t your taste. Maybe you could do without the prayer and the scripture. Maybe six or seven families and 15 kids is too many for your house. But I can’t help but think that every family would feel as uplifted as we did, just by getting together with dear friends and having a little parental pride party for the kids.
Keith Brenton is the father of Matthew, 9, and Laura, 6. He and his wife, Angi, are adoptive parents. As content/media editor, he helps maintain Reporter-News Online and works at home. You can reach him by e-mail at [no longer active], but he admits he doesn’t have all the answers.