My daughter is playing in a volleyball tournament this weekend. A mom of a teammate signaled to me to approach them. It seemed like they wanted to tell me something. When I got within earshot, she said, “You guys (my wife and I) have done a wonderful job with Jarah. The way she speaks to the other girls is amazing. She’s so positive and encouraging. It’s so nice to see.” I replied, “Thank you so much. That’s so kind of you to say.“
Wow. Have you ever been blessed by something totally unexpected? That made my day. It was the ultimate compliment. Jarah was voted captain by her teammates, and her team is a 15u team that has a lot of 14-year-olds. They are a young, inexperienced team playing mostly 15-year-old teams that are better than them. It would be very easy for Jarah to react differently to the situation, however, she is grounded in the proper set of values.
It was an affirmation of all the years of hard work to raise her (and her brother) right: to raise her to be kind and compassionate to other people, to be forgiving just as she has been forgiven, and to love others like she is loved. We are so proud of her.
At a time when it seems like there are so many surrogates for parents, it was a good reminder that good parenting matters. Lord knows my wife and I are far from perfect, but we must have done something right.
I think the main thing is that we “owned” our parenting responsibilities. We weren’t going to delegate or abdicate those responsibilities to anyone or anything else. We knew we would make mistakes, but would learn from them to become better parents. We knew there would be many negative influences on our kids that we would need to overcome.
And, there still are. We mustn’t get complacent.
Jarah is already a compassionate servant leader, and it didn’t happen by accident. She’s an imperfect girl with imperfect parents who take very seriously their responsibility to raise her to live a virtuous life and take seriously her civic responsibility. She is also shaped by other people and factors, some good and some bad.
Her story is still being written, however, the seed is planted for her to craft her calling. God willing, her mom and I will be around to witness many more chapters.