Off The Wall, April 01, 2011

Sometimes when we are caught up in the rift raft of push-push, do we ever take time to think or reflect back when our parents raised us and what behavioral patterns they hoped we would attain? Have we become the children they hoped we would be?

God has graced me with a memory that recalls the upbringing of my sister, Betsy, brother, Bob and yours truly. I can say, among the three of us, neither of the two got into trouble as much as I did. What motivated me to do what I did? Can’t rightly tell you, other than to say, I was a prankster and enjoyed ever moment of it.

Our parents went all out when it came to our education. My two sidekicks did much better in school and excelled. I, on the other hand, squeaked by the skin of my teeth.

Bob even attended Shadyside Academy, which, if you may have heard of this elite school in Fox Chapel, is for students who are able to accept the challenges of academia. Betsy was a straight A student who worked very hard to achieve her grades.

Thinking back, I can remember my mother driving my brother across the river daily from where we lived in Oakmont. I would sometimes ride with her upon picking him up. Betsy and I walked to school, some days together, but most the time on different sides of the street (part of sibling rivalry) or with friends.

When we weren’t going to school or taking part in sports there, we were driven weekly to a Lutheran church where we attended Sunday school and worship services.

Now, here again, I bet you are saying, so what? We did the same thing. For that I say, “Good.” But I can’t say that about every parent in every family situation. But what I want to impress upon all readers is this. What you read above may be typical of most families, but that does not mean all children once sprung from the nest will follow your footsteps. Influenced by their peers or other circumstances, they may chose a different lifestyle.

For all intended purposes, I have to tell you that mom and dad would be proud of all three of us, particularly with the achievements we have accomplished. I believe each of us have different habits of living. Association of friendships had a lot to do with it. How we interpreted and received philosophies is what made us what we are today.

I happened to see a video a couple months ago that talked about youth. A statement was made that fit right into what I stated above. “Our kids will make their own future.” I thought to myself, “These words hit the nail precisely on the head.”

Through experience, I can tell you, we did everything to bring up our children in the ways we would have hoped they would have walked. Did it happen? No, not exactly. But then, once out of the nest, it was anyone’s guess. I love them dearly and am extremely proud of their achievements.

I remember hearing about a youngster who was part of a family similar to ours. One of the differences was his father was a minister of a small church. As he grew up, he was led away from the teachings of his parent. Hearing and seeing his son react, the father threw the lad out of the house. Somehow, that doesn’t sound like a godly thing to do.

When you look at society today, so many things are different than when mom and dad raised us three. People are walking away from God and feeling good about it. They have assumed their way as being the way instead of following closely God’s Word.

One example is cohabitation of sexes under one roof. It is perfectly acceptable according to society that an unmarried man and woman live and share a bed together. People may think that this is all right and no one is going to tell them what to do, but there’s not much one can do about it especially when both parties are over the age of 21.

Now adults, they don’t feel obligated to worship God on a weekly to monthly basis. What happened to those days when the churches were full? Not anymore…

And what about loving thy brother as Jesus taught us all to do? What happened to that genuine outreach when we were taught to care for our neighbors whether they be next store or down the street. They are our brothers and sisters, created by God, our Father.

In bringing up our children we can all hope they will turn out as we taught them. I believe parents who are raising youth must pray that their kids continue to adhere to the Word of God. Will they adhere to the straight and narrow? God only knows.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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