One of many things my parents did right was consistently praying out loud with me as a child. They made Jesus the center of our family.
Paul & Janet Sanders are nothing short of the world’s greatest parents. God brought them together many years ago not knowing that they would raise a boy and nurture him into manhood. Along the way the boy began to respect his parents and notice all the things that they had done right. His parents loved him, took him to church, encouraged, supported and gave lessons of wisdom. Unconditional love came in many forms, and it started at a young age. Often, it was in the form of a firm hand on his backside when he was disobedient, or a pat on the back when he succeeded. Regardless of the circumstance, his parents loved him with a love like Christ’s. His parents took him to church, two, sometimes three days a week, where he learned about eternal life in Christ. His father was there to walk with him down the aisle as a sign of support for his son’s public profession of faith. At the same time, his mother cried tears of joy knowing that life with her son would not end at death.
As the boy matured there were many obstacles that seemed to block his path. Both mother and father were there to offer words of wisdom gained from past experiences. The boy would soon learn that his best asset was his parents, and the knowledge they wished to bestow upon him was priceless. Several years later it came time for the boy to leave his parents and start his own family. Once again, both parents were there to support and stand by their son as he took the final steps into adulthood.
The boy that matured into a man, relished the fact that he had two godly parents who raised him to the best of their ability, holding nothing back and trusting God. I am that boy who will spend the rest of his life trying to model what my parents did right.
Looking back, I can now see so many things my parents did right. At the time I didn’t understand them or think they were being fair, but now I see so much love and discipline in the way I was brought up. Sometimes tough love is the best kind of love.
My parents set many rules with the intent to protect my purity. Some of the rules I thought were crazy and too over protective but I thank God for those rules now. I was not allowed to have boys over when my parents were not home. This was so that I would not be faced with sexual pressure. When I spent the night at a friend’s house my mom would call the other mother to make sure I was really staying there. I hated this rule but it kept me accountable. My parents were open about sex and make sure I knew what consequences it could lead to. Although my parents knew that they could not prevent my decisions or keep me in a bubble, they did a great job at trying to protect me.
Education was never a question in my house. I had to make A’s and B’s or I would be grounded until my grades improved. I was not allowed to go out on a school night unless it was a school function. I had to have all my homework done before I could watch television or use the phone. My parents would never accept any grade that was below my potential. My parents would always ask me about homework and they knew when I had a test. They always made sure I studied and had my homework complete. Since I was an athlete, I always had to get progress reports signed which kept my parents very involved in my grades. When it came to college, they never put a limit on where I could go. They allowed it be my decision, which made me enjoy my time spent in college.
Financial responsibility was something I learned early. I began babysitting and doing chores for money when I was about 13. My parents always provided all the necessary things (and then some) but my social life was up to me. I started a real job when I was 15 and I had to give my mom half of every paycheck so she could put it in my savings account for me. I thought it was unfair at the time but after a few years of saving I was able to buy books and pay for my living expenses my first year or two in college. I also paid for my college through student loans, which made me appreciate my education much more. Although I am no financial expert, my parents taught me the value of money and I should be responsible with it. They never put too much financial responsibility on me and they never let me do without but through it all I appreciated what I had.
When I was growing up, my parents allowed me to try any activity I wanted. Whether it was ballet, gymnastics, soccer, softball, or basketball. I was very fortunate to have parents who attended every game (my dad was the coach), every gymnastics meet, and every dance recital. When I was ready to give up one for the other they, allowed me to do it. I feel like it made me a well-rounded kid. No matter the activity, my parents supported me and they always proved to be my biggest fans.
Church has always been a part of my life but there was never any push to have a personal relationship with Christ. I accepted Christ into my life when I was 24 years old. My parents saw the change in my life and supported me finding a church home. Although my decision to be baptized this year was not completely understood (because I was baptized as a baby) my parents eventually accepted it. I know it was difficult for them but they still supported me. This was one of the biggest decisions I have ever made, so having their support, whether they understood why or not, made all the difference in the world. I pray that one day my parents will have an intimate relationship with the Lord so they will know just how much they are loved.
I am not a perfect person and I was a very difficult kid at times, but through all my fits, moods, emotions, stages, and decisions, my parents always showed their love for me. My parents did not keep a record of all my wrongs or never loved me any differently. Parenting is a tough job, but through all the rules, tough love, and setting a good example, parents can really impact their children’s lives. I have been blessed with two very strong and loving parents. I just hope I am as good of a parent as they are. I wonder if they know how great they are?
People have often asked me, “What did your parents do that made all four of you girls turn out so well?” It is a funny question to me because growing up, we didn’t focus on how well my parents were parenting us and keep score or grade them on some kind of scale. To my knowledge, we just lived a fairly normal life, with two very loving and godly parents that passed on that love to their four girls. I am the third girl in the family and was always thrown in the middle of our family life. I watched as my sisters went through school, boyfriends, heartaches, discipline from mom and dad, friendships and sports, just to name a few. I followed a lot of what they did but always knew that whatever I did, I would always receive love from my mom and dad. Mom and Dad were busy keeping up with our four hectic schedules but I never felt neglected or unimportant to them.
If I have to answer the direct question regarding what they did right, I’m blessed to say, “Many things!” First, I always felt loved unconditionally from both my mom and my dad. They showed me they loved me by supporting me in whatever it was I wanted to do. They set boundaries about what I could and could not do, but within those boundaries, they gave me the freedom to make my own choices, good or bad. They would give advice when they thought it was appropriate, but at times, would give me the ability to even make a wrong choice. I was very stubborn, so after being allowed to make a wrong choice, I would then value their opinion even more and would begin to understand why I had made the wrong decision. Today, I am extremely grateful for the freedom as well as the direction they gave me!
Second, they included me in their lives. I didn’t feel like they were just a part what was happening in my life, they let me in on theirs. I felt secure being with adults at a young age because they allowed us to be with their adult friends and we enjoyed being with them. I believe being involved in their lives enabled me to learn a lot about people and relationships at a very young age. We also had fun being together and we loved to make each other laugh! We had many serious times and talks, but we could always make each other laugh and loved to do practical jokes!
Lastly, they pointed me to the person of Jesus Christ! They were not “preachy” to me or my sisters. Instead, they lived a life that showed me God’s perfect love and His amazing grace for me as a sinner. When we were younger, they would rarely let us spend the night with a friend on a Saturday night, because Sunday morning, we went to church as a family! When I came down in the mornings, my mom almost always had made my lunch and had her coffee cup and her Bible open and was already reading God’s Word for the day. My dad and I are night owls, so I would usually be up late and find him still downstairs. He would often be reading his Bible and highlighting half of the page. Many nights, we would share an oreo cookie and a glass of milk on the kitchen counter and he would love to share with me what he was reading or what he would teach to his Sunday school class the next day. Dad has a passion for God’s Word and he wants people to experience that same thirst for our Heavenly Father so they could experience a personal and intimate relationship with Him.
My parents prayed in the driveway for us before we left to go back to college after a weekend at home. They would go and be there for our family and friends that had a loss or needed to be encouraged. They would invite the sacker from the the grocery store to have Thanksgiving with our family. They made time for people, just like Jesus did and they showed me how to love those around me in the same way. To this very day, they reach out to people to whom many others would not. They loved right where people were and not because of who they were. Even though my parent’s lives and marriage have been blessed, I am even more grateful to have seen them go through tough times and see how God loved them and how they continued to love each other through whatever storm may have come their way. I truly believe that it was their authentic relationship with God that allowed me to come the Lord at such an early age. Through them modeling God’s love and grace, I did not stray far from God and He has protected and blessed my life for 33 years!
What an opportunity we have as parents to cultivate a perfect love relationship between parent and child as well as a relationship of our child with our Savior, Jesus Christ! As my dad still says to this very day, “Seize the day!” They certainly did as parents and now I’m trying to do the same for my children! There is no higher calling! What a joy it is! Praise God for “what they did right” only through Jesus Christ.
A few years ago as Mom was visiting with one of her close friends about motherhood, the friend complimented her by saying, “Claire, you don’t just love your children; you genuinely like them! Most people naturally love their children, but some people have a hard time actually liking them.”
Feeling liked by Mom and Dad. The simple, yet profound comment has played repeatedly in my head as I often reflect on the last 28 years as the fourth daughter of Oscar and Claire Turner.
What did liking your children look like in the Turner household? First, there was mutual respect. When it came to discipline, Mom or Dad would sit me down and explain why they didn’t approve of what I did, or why it required punishment. Then, they would give me the opportunity to explain the reasons for my behavior or actions. Bottom line: there was two-way communication. Whether or not a punishment was given, my voice was heard; therefore, I felt like Mom and Dad respected my opinion. Now, whether they agreed with it or not, is a different story.
Secondly, my parents wanted to be around us as often as they could. Our time wasn’t forced or uncomfortable, but fun and enjoyable. They made time for us, but set healthy boundaries when they needed time alone. When Mom and Dad invited company over to the house, they didn’t point us to our room and shut the door. They included us in their time of fellowship, which helped us learn how to relate to and enjoy outsiders and adults. They genuinely liked having us around.
Lastly, Mom and Dad liked us so much that their ultimate goal as parents was to daily encourage us to walk in Truth. They spoke biblical wisdom into most decisions and situations we experienced. They spoke truth in love; they modeled godliness, mercy, and unconditional love. Since the birth of their first daughter in 1963, my parents have had “no greater joy than to hear that their children are walking in the Truth”. Forty years later, all 4 daughters are walking in truth, primarily because Mom and Dad walked along side us, providing the confidence and support to “walk” alone with Christ on the remainder of our Journeys. To sum up what my parents did right; they LED, they LOVED, they LIKED.
As a 30-year-old adult who has a close relationship with my parents, I can point to several things looking back that I think they “did right” in raising me. To start, there was the family dinner. There was never any question that our entire family would sit down to dinner together every night. It was an important stage for staying involved in each other’s lives, tackling hard issues, celebrating and even disciplining. This is a great habit I intend to continue.
Consistency is another big one. My parents were extremely consistent in their behavior, and in their discipline of us. We went to church every Sunday, no questions asked. Their beliefs, rules and disciplines were unwavering. I may not have liked it as a 15-year-old trying to push the limits, but I sure appreciate it now. The great thing is, they also knew when to bend. Somehow they found a healthy balance between discipline and the happiness of their children.
From an early age, my parents taught me the importance of respecting my elders, and particularly my grandparents. “Yes, ma’am and No, ma’am” were staples of my vocabulary. But surely the most important thing I learned from my parents was their unashamed love for Jesus Christ. This is one thing I never doubted for a second, because it was part of their lives, woven into their personalities. And now I have the joy of growing in our faith together. Thanks, Mom and Dad!