I want(ed) to be an “even better” parent

My son is approaching his 17th birthday soon (Domine ad adjuvandum me festina), so I was journaling recently about parenting. I titled it, “Parenting: What I Occasionally Did Right, But Wish I Did Better.” Of course, it’s what my wife and I did right, but the “occasionally/wish” is my own moral grappling with the past. All parents who want to live their God-given trust well must grapple, and honest parenting makes Confession into your favorite Sacrament.

There was a section of the journal entry, as I wrote, that suddenly turned in to an “Even better than…” litany. It was written in a simple, randomly arranged, free flowing stream of consciousness state-of-mind. And it was a wonderful litany of thanks to God for all those extraordinary people who have helped shape my spousal and fatherly heart.

For what it’s worth, I share it here:

+ Even better than showing them a sacrificial life is allowing them to sacrifice.

+ Even better than serving them is to allow them to serve.

+ Even better than showing them how to pray is allowing them to pray.

+ Even better than trying to model suffering well is helping them to suffer well.

+ Even better than creating consequences for bad decisions is allowing them to suffer the natural consequences of their bad decisions.

+ Even better than protecting them from bad decisions is helping them learn from bad decisions.

+ Even better than pointing out their faults is praising their virtues.

+ Even better than telling them what chastity is, is to be chaste myself, when they’re watching and when they’re not.

+ Even better than telling them to respect their mother is to never ever tolerate disrespect for their mother.

+ Even better than talking to them about God is talking to God about them.

+ Even better than sermonizing morality is narrating great lives.

+ Even better than issuing moral commands is wondering aloud at the beauty of goodness.

+ Even better than telling them to “honor thy mother and father” is to allow them to see I honor my own.

+ Even better than telling her to “Get off the iThing!” is to say, “Let’s go fishing.”

+ Even better than making it to work on time is staying to look at her crayon drawings.

+ Even better than telling him to not be lazy is to have him help me fix the mower.

+ Even better than telling them to be charitable is to refrain from speaking uncharitably of others.

+ Even better than yelling is serene and unyielding firmness in my expectations.

+ Even better than talking is listening.

+ Even better than my private life lessons is my public life witness.

+ Even better than raising Christians is raising Christ-lovers.

+ Even better than the silence after they’ve fallen asleep is their voice first thing in the morning.

+ Even better than loving them is loving my wife, for when I love my wife well I love them best.

9 comments on “I want(ed) to be an “even better” parent

  1. Jeane says:

    Love this: “honest parenting makes Confession into your favorite Sacrament.” Parenthood has the potential to be absolutely sancifying. Wonderful post, Tom. Thanks for sharing. And Happy Birthday to young Mr. Neal.

  2. WoopieCushion says:

    I thank my mom and dad for loving each other IN FRONT OF US!! xoxo : )

  3. The desire to be an “even better” parent – is the catalyst to becoming and “even better” parent.

  4. Bridget says:

    Beautiful litany… thank you kindly!

  5. カーターズ アウトレット

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