If you have children, you are raising someone else’s spouse. You are raising someone else’s parent. How does that make you feel? The responsibility of parenting can be considered the greatest thing most of us ever do.
I have been blessed to have been married to my best friend of 38 years. When I met her I inherited everything that others had poured into her. Twenty six years of her story was written before we met.
On August 28th, 1983 we went out on our first date and, as is the case with any other first date, the two of us had to decide if there would be a second date. Both of us enjoyed our first dinner together and 14,081 days later with two adult children and 37 years of marriage we are still dating.
On our first date my wife accuses me of “cross examining” her. Her accusations are accurate. I had dated others in high school and college and, as a newly licensed attorney, I had cross examination skills. So in less than two hours in a restaurant I asked her every invasive and nosy question I could to learn about the journey she had been on.
What I am getting at is that our spouses come preprogramed. I asked about her parents and their history. I asked about her being the oldest child, her brothers, her religious upbringing, her education, her occupation, her dating history, her childhood, and so on. You get the idea...I got to know her very quickly.
Good or bad, compatible or not, she woke up on August 28th who she was and where she was at. What others had poured into her combined with her own choices led her to our first date.
Now, I am leaving an important element out. Just as she was a package deal from her history, so was I. I had been around 25 years and when I picked her up for our date that evening, I was also the result of my upbringing and choices I had made in my own life.
My life’s story met her life’s story and we began our story together...a story that continues today.
How does this apply to you? Your child or children are being programmed daily. Someday they will meet someone who they are interested in and what they carry inside them will have a major impact on another. Further, what is inside him or her will have an impact on the generations that follow if they choose to have their own children.
Is your parenting today important? In practicing law I repeatedly hear people’s stories. When a 60 year old in my office tells his story and starts by sharing that his parents got divorced when he was seven, it tells me that a choice that was beyond his control had a major impact on his life 53 years earlier. It became the beginning of his story.
I am not passing judgment on the acts of others, but I just wonder if this man’s parents ever thought that 53 years later he would be sharing with a stranger that their actions when he was seven years old would influence his life until his last breath.
I think we are often selfish in the lives we live. We don’t consider the impact our actions have on others, especially innocent children.
Bottom line, if you have children, you are writing their stories. The younger the child, the more influence you have on his or her daily life. None of us are perfect and, despite our best efforts, as parents we fumble from time to time. The challenge is to minimize the fumbling and maximize good equipping.
How are you doing in programing your child? Is it a top priority in your life? Is your parenting someone else’s spouse and mother or father something you take seriously? Do you give selflessly? Or do you really care about what their future spouse will inherit?
These can be some challenging and revealing questions.
My challenge to you is to stop a few minutes and think through your role in the stories of other’s lives, especially if you are a parent of a young child. Your actions in his or her life will play out for generations to come.
You are preparing each child for someone they may not have met yet whose life will be impacted possibly for the rest of his or her life and as a parent of future children.
Further, you or anyone in a leadership role, even over other adults, are impacting the stories of those you are leading. Don’t take this responsibility lightly.
My hope and prayer for my life is that to the extent I have an impact on the stories of others, that I do things that add value to their lives so they can add value to others.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.
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