Growing up, my dad would get quite frustrated when driving with my Grandpa Bill. As they were navigating the interweaving country roads, Dad would ask, “which way?” and Grandpa would respond “either way can get you there.” Dad felt this was not a helpful response as, in his Tom-nature, it wasn’t most efficient. Now that I’m a parent, I wonder if Grandpa was on to something.
Grandpa didn’t just know and teach the Mapquest turn-by-turn, but he laid out the entire map. Grandpa could just teach dad that the way to X is a left, a right and a left. But what if Dad needed to go someplace near X? Those directions weren’t completely helpful. Or what if the right-turn road was closed? How do you navigate construction?
Instead, Grandpa introduced his kids to the entire landscape. And I’m pretty sure there was some historical commentary along the way (such as, “over there is where your brother put the tractor in the ditch”). This way, when one would get lost or veer in a different direction, they would know a route that would ultimately lead them home.
I’ve done more than my fair share of calling Dad to get directions. There was the time that Sister & I missed the exit to 31 when coming home from Columbus. Or the time that JJ and I drove aimlessly through middle-of-nowhere-Champaign-county. And thankfully my dad willingly provides his GPS-like skills, sometimes within the context of a good chuckle. I’m grateful that he’s been exposed to more of the terrain and can offer direction for a the route home.
I hope that, as a parent, I show my kids the map and take them on long country drives. Not only is it good quality time, but I’ll have hope that they’ll learn that all roads can get you home. You just have to know where home is located and be willing to turn around once in a while.
It always excites me to a) chat with people in a coffee shop b) drink candy coffee c) spend time with youngins (aka high school and college students). Thus, this morning served as time well spent. And I love that the nature of such time always leads me to think more reflectively; the “teacher” always ends up the student.
On the surface, you’d think that Her issues were simply the classic struggles of a high school girl and dating. Sure, those struggles are there. But beyond the first line of discussion, you find that she wrestles with questions about what she wants from life, how to keep an honest relationship with her parents and what it is she’s looking for in deep relationships with others. All very, very good questions.
It made me (as previously mentioned) reflect upon the role of parenting. I started to wonder: what if my job is not to get my kids to answer or act in the right way, but to ask the right questions? What if, over the course of time, my kids desire something other than what I had planned for them (because we all know I’m a planner). Wouldn’t my time be better spent helping them ask questions that will lead them to fulfilling and God-glorifying paths?
Rather than teaching kids “this person is not a good influence on you”, could I teach my kids to ask “what are you looking for in life? how do the people you spend time with bring that out?” Rather than teaching “a college degree is the way to be” could I ask “what do you want from life and what resources do you need and steps can you take to get there?”
This is still hypothetical. There certainly must be holes in my theory. Especially at the toddler level. I suspect the methods and approaches for teaching children will change and evolve as they do, but I think guiding principles and philosophies will stay the same. What is my goal and my job as a parent, and how can I best live it out?
I know, it’s pretty deep for noon on a Saturday.