1. Show public affection to your wife and children, and yes, grandchildren.
Kids need to know you are open and unashamed of your love for them. Just as importantly, public affection for your spouse shows her the same thing and provides critical assurance in the eyes of the kids. I finally learned this lesson the hard way while we were building our Cedar Cove home. I foolishly reacted to the kids acting embarrassed and let go of Connie’s hand as we walked across a parking lot. Later that day when I sought her opinion about where we should place the bluebird boxes in the new yard, she promptly told me to stick it where the sun don’t shine.
2. Kids never, ever forget a funny gaffe.
For instance, years ago one Sunday morning as I was leading the congregation in the prayer for the offering, I made a reference to the Holy Spirit. Somehow what came out was “holy sport”. The laughing began immediately and the thought of it still brings a chuckle to this day. I’m just glad they were listening and recognized the mistake.
3. Related to number two above, knowing and understanding those “insider phrases” that have meaning only within your family hold special value.
If one of us says. “heal him, Lord”, each of our minds are immediately flooded with a certain mental picture.
4. Genes are the original hand me downs.
Ever noticed traits in yourself reminiscent of a parent or even grandparent? Sure, you have. Even a good trait may be surprising, especially if you consider yourself an independent and original sort. I can clearly trace the ability to “be content in my own little world” from my Pop Pearson and on to Laura and to first grandchild Allie Grace.
5. Once a parent, always a parent.
Just today as Laura drove away with Nathan and Megan in the back seat heading home to Rome, GA, that familiar prayer for their safety passed through my lips again. As I write, I am reminded of the afternoon we brought our firstborn home from the hospital. Sleep that night came in tiny increments between checking her crib to assure myself she was alive and well. Similar nights and days ensued as Matt and Julie joined our clan. Now a large part of my calling is to pray daily for Laura, David, Nathan, Megan, Matt, Katie, Luke, Seth, Birti, Julie, Brian, Allie, Margaret, Penelope, Rosemary, Sam and Bethany.
6. Camping is a great way to strengthen family bonds while children are small.
Connie never dreamed she would spend a night in a campground and I could never have imagined camping in any way other than a tent and sleeping bags. So, eventually we made us both happy and bought a pop-up camper. Talk about togetherness! Picture all 5 of us excitedly heading out in the front seat of my 2-door Chevrolet pickup truck with that Coleman camper trailing closely behind. No wonder the kids thought we would never get there! But, we made memories deserving of another few posts on a blog.
7. The husband who decides to totally control family finances is seriously errant. Money management is far more fun and effective as a shared responsibility.
More about this will have to wait for the “Ten things I’ve learned about finances”, but let me set the stage here. For more years than I care to admit, yours truly believed the opposite meaning I kept a lot of financial information to myself and Connie was left to ask for funds from time to time, not knowing whether they were available or whether I was hoarding cash somewhere. This was one of my most serious blunders and what a tribute to her that she never allowed it to become a divisive matter for us. I now realize that financial stress is one of the major causes for marriage problems. All the credit for protecting our marriage during those days goes to our heavenly Father. Somehow I discovered a book called “From the bedroom to the boardroom” which really opened my eyes to the fact that I was (am) married to a highly intelligent woman whose insight our family desperately needed.
8. Your relationship with your spouse has priority over your children.
We learned this important lesson when we found ourselves with an “empty nest”. We planned, paid for and carried out church weddings for Laura, Julie and Matt within a sixteen month period. Those months typified how demanding, time-consuming and down right hectic guiding children into adulthood was through the years. Within a few weeks of Matt and Katie’s wedding, we realized just how many years we had focused on the kids to the point of neglecting our relationship. Some serious homework became necessary to rectify that deeply embedded fracture which had developed unnoticed over a period of years. It’s agitating to realize we could have avoided the struggle by making correct priorities with a little more wisdom.
9. Cousins camp is the greatest thing since, well…children!
For six summers we have made Pearson Cousins Camp a priority. The time allows us to know the grandchildren better when their Moms and dads are somewhere else. That same time allows the cousins to develop lifelong relationships with each other. Connie and I enjoy a few days to influence the kids. And we believe if we are a positive influence, dividends will follow for generations to come. Oh, did I mention we enjoy enough laughter during that week to lower our blood pressure by several numbers.
10. Intentional conversations as a family at mealtime is a powerful parenting tool.
Connie is a master at asking questions in this setting, opening opportunities to know, understand and love each other deeply. Mealtime conversations night after night at home around our kitchen table may have been the single most valuable activity in solidifying our relationships which have endured long periods of physical separation in the ensuing years.
What would you add? What has been most memorable in your family experience?