"Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories." ~John Wilmot
Any parent, worth his or her salt, will readily admit to ignorance on any number of subjects – especially parenting. It can be frightening when we consider the consequence for our children and the perpetual admonition to them to pay attention to us. We step back from overhearing them being told to do so and remember how many parental lessons we missed, ignored, or discarded along the way. How much easier would life have been if we had been mentally and emotionally present in the parental school of wisdom?
Homer doesn't make things easier when he remarks, "It behooves a father to be blameless if he expects his child to be."
Perfection eludes us and the quest for perfection haunts, us, but grace equips us to take the risks involved in doing our best and letting go of the rest. We are hard put to find all the right words or address all the important issues in parenting. Robert Fulghum landed squarely on the truth when he said, "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."
Our children are always watching. It is up to them whether or not they will listen. That is their responsibility and capacity, especially as they grow old. It is also ours, who have grown older, not to forsake the wisdom of the past as no longer relevant. Solomon wisely said, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. "(Proverbs 1:8-9 NIV)
He then enters into an extended teaching about the dangers or rejecting that teaching and pursuing a life of riotous activity without regard to ethics and morality. The bottom line is that you are more attractive, effective, and fulfilled if you take the time to learn what is being taught. And our children have a better shot at life if we take the time to teach them. Furthermore, we have a better chance of teaching them well if we revisit what we have been taught and take it to heart.
As a rock song from the 60s put it, "and the beat goes on."