Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Talking with My Kids

I had a rare evening off last night. Rarer still, my son, 25, had the entire day off. And so, because he had no other plans, we got to hang out together. We did our usual: Chipotle and Half Price Books.

Later in the evening, our daughter, 22, called. She and her husband live in Florida. We must have spoken for forty minutes or so.

The conversations I had with each of the "kids" were different. My son and I discussed how one goes about sharing faith in Christ in a time when people think that they're self-sufficient. "It's funny," he commented, wisely, I think, "lots of people in the middle class West find it hard to believe in a loving, omnipotent God because bad things happen in the world. But people in the Third World, who are subject to so much pain, don't see that as an issue getting in the way of having faith." We agreed that our comforts have given us an overarching sense of entitlement, whereas those with less are free from their dependence on the things of the world and so, are much more able to believe.

My daughter and I talked a bit about her day. She and her husband both had their days off and had a good time. Then, she brought up the recent Alec Baldwin telephone message, in which the actor railed against his eleven year old daughter for not answering his call, calling her, among other things an ass and a pig. Rightly, my daughter was outraged. To personally attack a child, to make her feel small rather than dealing with what Baldwin thought she had done, struck her as terribly wrong.

She went on to talk about a conversation she'd had with a co-worker. "She says that her father is always angry, Dad. Her parents are divorcing because he can't control his temper. She wanted to know what my Dad was like. I told her that my Dad is my best friend. Just like my Mom. I can talk with you guys about anything."

Our son is working at a local Starbucks, getting ready to move to Florida himself. Though he has his own life even as he lives here in the house, I know that the ties between our kids and us will remain strong. They'll change through the years. The telephone calls will become less frequent as the demands of their lives increase. But I hope that my wife and I will always remain people that our kids can to talk to about anything.

Last night was mundane. Nothing particularly amazing happened, I suppose. And yet that's not true either, is it?


Deborah White said...

I hear your prayers in this post, and I personally share them, Mark!

We strive to stay close to our adult children, and remain relevant in their lives. So far, so good.

And our bright high schooler is seriously pondering attending college in the East. She has many wonderful opportunities... but it breaks my mother's heart to imagine her leaving the West. But she may well do that.

Mark Daniels said...

When our oldest, our son, went away to college, that was so hard! Three years later, our daughter decided to go to school locally. She didn't want to leave. But three months into her schooling, she went to Florida for an eight-month college program. She came back, with a fiance. They've been married for nearly two years and moved to Florida last fall.

As far as I can see, parents' jobs boil down to two main tasks: introducing their children to Jesus Christ and preparing them for adulthood. From the time they're young, our work is about letting them go. It's morally wrong to constrain children, in my estimation, and I personally always wanted my children to feel good about moving as far away from us as they chose. But though the nature of our ties should change, I'm glad that we can always have those ties.

Whatever your youngest decides to do, I'm sure that your relationship will always be strong, Deborah.

Blessings in Christ,