Carolyn Anderson's excellent New Wineskins article on the spiritual formation of children prompted me to post a column I wrote for the August 23, 2002 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News:
Our small group at church has been studying Christian parenting every Wednesday evening since September and recently came to the conclusion that we don’t tell our kids often enough just how proud of them we are and why.
So a couple of weeks ago, six pairs of parents gathered in our living room to tell our 15 children — ages 2 through 9 — exactly that, a “parental blessing,” if you will.
I really didn’t know what to expect since the gathering was the brainchild of our small group leader, and he had planned the itinerary. And I confess I had my doubts about having that many little ones tearing through the house. Some of them are real tornadoes — and two of them are mine!
Together we gobbled down a potluck dinner in which every family had contributed ingredients for curry chicken. The kids played together for a while, as they always do. Then we collected everyone.
Each dad read a short scripture that has special meaning for him when he’s interacting with his kids. Every reading was different, and each one gave a little more insight about that family.
Because 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 two calls from our adoption agency.
Each parent, in turn, told each of his or her children one or two reasons we are so proud of them, right there in front of their friends and family. 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 youngest one — a precious little blond-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 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 are 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 a few dear friends and having a little parental pride party for the kids.