We can’t give our children what we don’t have

I remember the evening well. It was late. Kayden and I had just arrived home from a late afternoon soccer game. We were wet, tired, cold, hungry, and NOT in the math mood. If you didn’t already know it, I’m an ENGLISH teacher.

I do not “math”.

She was beside herself with grief over this math problem about the size of a basketball court and shapes and numbers and all the ridiculous “math”ness.

I had absolutely nothing to give her. I tried to “math” at the best of my ability, but I just couldn’t solve x (I think x should solve its own problem).

Lucky for me, I have several of my math peeps on retainer (being a teacher has multiple perks), and several text and Facebook drawings later, we had solved the problem. All was well with the Wisehart world and we crashed into our beds satisfied.

I couldn’t give Kayden what I didn’t have myself. But in the case of math, I could call upon my math muse friends and they could make beautiful symphonies out of scribbled stuff.

But that’s not the case with everything.

If I don’t exercise, it’s unlikely that Kayden will make a regular habit of exercising as she gets older.

If I don’t eat good food, I can’t expect that when Kayden leaves the house she’ll just “know” what’s good for her.

If I don’t go to church, she probably won’t, either. And later on, when she’s a young adult out of college, it would be ridiculous of me to wonder why she’s not connecting to a life giving community. I didn’t do it, why should she?

If I don’t have a regular habit of kindness, compassion, and servanthood, well, I think you’re understanding the premise.

I can’t give Kayden what I’m not doing myself.

Remember that song, “Cat in the Cradle” (or something like that)? It was about a dad who never had time to spend with his son. Then, later in life when he wasn’t so busy, when he WANTED to spend time with him, the son was busy himself.

He didn’t pass family time on to his son. He didn’t have it to give, and his son didn’t receive it. So later, his son didn’t have it to give back.

This doesn’t mean I should wallow in mom guilt and cry about my lack of Pinterest pancakes and cut-out butterfly sandwiches. That’s not something I am keen to pass on to Kayden. She doesn’t have to be Pinterest Perfect. It means I should think about what really matters and make sure I’m passing it on.

What are the non-negotiables in life? What are the absolute must-haves for Kayden to live a full, complete, Best Day Ever Adventure when she leaves my house to set out on her own journey?

For me, the biggest non-negotiable is her relationship with Jesus. And if that’s the most important thing, I should be filling myself up with Him so I can give Him to her. I should model my faith in both word and action. That is evident where I place my time, my talents, and my treasure (money).  I tell you what, I don’t always do it perfectly. But Kayden isn’t likely to “get” what I can’t give her myself.

Yes, yes. There are those of us who picked up many positives along the way from other mentors in our lives because we had to – things we didn’t get at home. I understand that home lives are not always what they should be. But here’s the deal. If you have the capability, don’t you WANT them to learn it at home? Don’t you WANT them to get from YOU the best parts of life so they can live them out? Isn’t that why we are PARENTS?

As a teacher, I understand that if I don’t teach writing correctly to my students, they won’t get it – and they won’t be ready for the next consecutive year of writing. They can’t get from me what I’m not learning myself. If I don’t consistently develop my skills and learn and grow, then they can’t, either.

That’s why I need to do what I want the “millennials” to do and STOP COMPLAINING about the “millennials”. We (and I) love to wag our fingers about teenagers and children and “the next generation”. I need to look at MYSELF and see if I’m modeling for them the way I would like them to live. With:











Am I doing the stuff I expect Kayden to do? Or am I expecting her to live up to standards I don’t even keep myself?

Just something I’m thinking about.

One Comment on “We can’t give our children what we don’t have

  1. Thank you for sharing, Carrie. Our actions and behaviors will always be more influential than the words we speak, especially in our relationships with our children. Oh boy, and those kiddos aren’t afraid to call us out on that too!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: