Lessons I Learned From My Parents: Later I learned they were biblical
When I think of my parents, a few select memories always come to mind.
My earliest memory is of living in a trailer in Leesville, going to a beach, and being surrounded by my parents’ long-haired hippy friends and rock music. I recall my dad’s green truck, our tiny dog Georgie, and honeybuns. The honeybun was always the half my dad saved for me while he was at work.
I remember in elementary school wishing so badly that my mom would be a room-mom, one of those ladies who spent their free time organizing and coordinating class activities. How cool it would have been to see my mom at school!
I remember in junior high my mom driving my friends and me all over town—to the mall, to slumber parties, to school events, to church, and to an Expose concert. Even though my mom drove us everywhere, we surely couldn’t be seen with my mom, so she always walked behind us. I still feel awful about this, but come on, I was 13!
I remember in high school fighting with my dad about curfew, not understanding why at 15 I had to be home at 11:00. Surely he knew all the fun happened later than that; what if I missed something?
As a child I thought my parents were the best. As a teenager I thought they were ridiculous. Now as an adult I’m pretty sure my parents are genius, right up there with Einstein!
I have lived 43 years in the presence of my parents and realize they have become a reminder of how I am to live my life since accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. So much of what they have taught and modeled is rooted in the word of God. They may not even realize this.
These are lessons learned from my parents that later proved biblical:
All things in moderation
No matter what the topic, my mother always had sound advice and wisdom to share. I suppose much of our conversations were steeped in instruction, what to do and what not to do. And the one sentiment my mom always seem to rely on was do all things in moderation. She explained that too much of anything probably wasn’t good. I shouldn’t eat too much candy because I’d get a cavity. I shouldn’t drink too much cola because I’d get a stomach ache. I shouldn’t stay up too late because I’d be sleepy and unproductive the next day. I shouldn’t drink alcoholic beverages too much because it could lead to addiction and choices I’d regret.
My mother’s instruction was more about being aware, being cautious, than just saying no. Her advice aligns with 1 Corinthians 6:12. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
Ephesians 5:17-18 is probably what my mother wanted me to know. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
I’ve made some wise decisions, and I’ve made some really dumb decisions. It’s only through my study of scripture that I have learned to measure all things I do by the standard of Christ.
Everything about my mother screams balance. I have never seen her flip out, freak out, zone out, or fall out. She is indeed calm, cool, and collected—to quote this greatly overused phrase. She has never spouted off profanities or tossed around threats and ultimatums. No, she is poise and grace, patience and etiquette.
I see my mother in the words of Galatians 5:22-23. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I see her living out Philippians 4:6-9. Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.
I hear my mother’s voice in James 1:19-20 which reminds us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
While my mother may have modeled how to remain calm, God’s word solidified this character trait in me.
My parents are workers by nature and by choice. Neither one of them can sit still or pass up a project or task that needs tending. They are retired now, but both were blessed to operate their own businesses. My dad, a general contractor, still maintains countless reputable business associates and partnerships. My mother, a child care provider, enjoys the greetings and hugs from young adults who were once toddlers in her care.
I see my parents’ work ethic outlined in the simple words of Proverbs 10:4. Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.
I am reminded of their business sense, practicality, and high standards in Proverbs 12:11. A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
Proverbs 13:4 illustrates how their hard work has paid off. Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.
Today, I am not only successful but excel in my position because of my parents’ modeling and God’s instruction.
Respect authority and your elders
My parents enrolled me in a catholic elementary school when I was five. While there I learned the Ten Commandments, school was fun, and teachers could be mean. Even so, I knew it was beneficial for me to listen to my teachers and to respond respectfully to adults. Why? Because it’s what my parents expected. And obeying my parents was a commandment.
When I complained about a teacher or principal, a decision, or a mandate, my parents just presented a logical rationale for both sides as best they could and expected me to accept it although I may not agree with it. There was no take a stand, show them who’s boss, or wait till I get a hold of them. There was simply the standard of submitting to established authority and those in charge.
I never gave much thought to respecting authority until I became an adult and follower of Christ. It has been through parenting, teaching, and collaborating with co-workers that I see the need for norms, order, boundaries, and leaders. I learned it’s biblical too, of course.
It starts with Exodus 20:12. Honor your father and mother. Then you will have a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
I am indeed blessed with a full life and a fabulous relationship with my parents.
Genesis 2:16 proves my parents were right in expecting me to obey those in charge because God first expected obedience of me. Titus 3:1-2, like my parents, reminds me to submit to the government and its officers, be ready to do what is good, don’t slander anyone, and avoid quarreling.
Modesty and self-respect
I remember the talk my dad had with me when I got my first steady boyfriend. I was 16; the boyfriend was 18. We met at school and were friends. Then we decided to date.
The talk was awkward--not uncomfortable, just thoughts my dad attempted to relay to me as direct yet palatable as he could. He wanted me to make smart decisions, present myself as a lady, and be mindful of my character and reputation. This much I concluded.
Of course I did not always make smart decisions, and I’m sure I’ve acted less than genteel. But thankfully there is the grace of God, the redeeming love of Christ, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I am not perfect but am keenly aware of my conduct as a child of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 basically outlines what my dad wished to articulate—steer clear of sexual sin, idol worship, adultery, and those who are thieves, greedy, drunkards, and abusive.
My dad’s standards for me as a young lady are just what God’s word describes in 1 Timothy 2:9-14. Women should be modest in appearance, wear decent and appropriate clothing, and make themselves attractive by the good things they do.
My dad may have had a hard time getting the words out, but God’s word for me as a woman is crystal clear.
It is both embarrassing and amusing when I recall the first time my parents kept Jacob overnight. It was sixteen years ago and happened like this:
It was my then-husband’s class reunion. It was our first outing since Jacob was born. I had spent the entire day preparing my outfit, my make-up, the diaper bag, and a list of things my mom needed to know about Jacob. We arrived at my parent’s house later that evening with baby and bag in tow. I set the diaper bag down, handed Jacob over, and pulled out the list. I went over the list in great detail with my mom, pointing out how and when to conquer each task. I spelled out how to prepare the bottle, how to run the bath water, how to rock him, how to burp him, how to change him, and how to put him to sleep. I even explained what to do if he woke up in the middle of the night.
That’s right. The woman who raised two kids of her own needed to know how to run bath water. The woman who provided child care for over eighteen years in the community needed to know how to prepare a bottle. This same woman needed instruction from me on feeding, burping, and changing a diaper. I know. How insulting! We still laugh about this today. My mom says she knew I was going to be a good mother.
I am good because she is good. I am good because God put right examples in my life and surrounded me with loving women.
My heart’s desire is to parent according to scripture. To instruct Jacob according to Exodus 20:12, to obey his parents so that his life will be full. I intend to parent with purpose as in 1 Peter 5:2. I will care for the flock that God has entrusted to me. I will watch over it willingly, not grudgingly, not because of what I will get out of it, but because I am eager to serve God.
God began his work in my life long before I ever acknowledged him. It started the day he picked my parents. It began with their teachings, their example, their standards. It is Christ who will refine and finish what they have started.
What's the best lesson you learned?