Sometimes, as a parent, it’s hard to know if you’re doing the right thing. What exactly is the plan for your kids? What are you trying to accomplish? We often say that our job as parents is to give our kids the tools they need to survive adulthood.
Now, you and I both know that we can never teach them everything they will need to know in a lifetime. We can’t begin to anticipate every circumstance and challenge. But, we can provide them with basic skills. We explain that if they learn to be polite at home, they will have an easier time being polite to the police officer that pulls them over for speeding or the boss that asks them to do some job task that they don’t particularly want to do.
We emphasize that everyone has jobs to do around the house, just because. We aren’t paid to do the dishes. We do the dishes so that we have clean ones the next time we want to eat. We mow the grass to keep unwanted critters from moving in. We wash our clothes so that we don’t stink up the place. We pay bills because we like having the lights on at night and we do a good job at work so that we have the money to pay those bills.
But, there are so many other important lessons that we hope we convey to our children. We hope they will learn to be honest, caring people. We hope they can show compassion to those in need. We hope they work hard and feel good about the work they do. We hope they find someone to love who loves them as much as we do.
One of the most challenging hopes we have is for the children to stay connected to each other. For some, this is an easy challenge. Two of my girls are super connected. They are 16 years apart in age, but you’d never guess it when you see them together. They are best friends. Some of our other kids are not so connected.
Almost half of our children joined our family in their teens. By the time they came to us, connections were not familiar to them. Many had been adopted before. Some had jumped from placement to placement. And, none were connected to adults in their lives. So, expecting them to connect to anyone was pretty far fetched. They struggle, as adults, to maintain relationships on a daily basis. Most have jumped from one dysfunctional partner to another. Few have married. And, almost all of them have struggled to keep custody of their own children. They just don’t know how to have a strong relationship.
But, the ones who do connect, connect in ways that overwhelm me. They post on Facebook that they are each other’s best friends. They post pictures of bonding or having great family days. These are the moments we live to see. We know that these kids have support for life. They know they can reach out to each other and someone will pick up the phone. They know that no matter how challenging life gets, they have each other.
And, for them, that sense of family is priceless.
- Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, 2 biological kids, Guardian of one adorable toddler, and has been the foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She has worked with kids in the foster care system for over two decades, actively advocating for all kids, but especially those in the LGBT community. And, in her spare time, she can be found preaching in some of our area’s most LGBT-friendly churches. Feel free to send your parenting questions to her at Pastor.Kelly@comcast.net.