A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


February 1, 2012

Mothers, Teach Your Children

     It is becoming more and more apparent to me that our children are no longer learning from us.  When I was growing up, I can remember listening to the stories of my grandmothers, and loving to hear the history of my family.
My grandmother, who
struggled to provide for her family.
      On my mother's side, my grandmother survived a childhood bout with scarlet fever; lost a child to drowning and her 34-year-old husband to appendicitis, while she was pregnant with their 5th child.  She supported her family by sewing and taking in laundry during the Depression years of the 1930's.  Seven years later, she remarried a widower with five children of his own, and a kind neighbor offered to take her to town to buy her a dress to get married in.  As they returned to the small town where she lived, they discovered that her house had burned down.  She went on to survive her second husband, was a devout Believer and leader in her congregation, and was the Grand Marshall of the Homecoming Parade at the revered age of 84!
My great-great-grandparents,
who began a new life in the Civil War.  
     My father's mother lost her mother as a young child, and she then lost three of her own children to what was described as "the summer fever".  She was only 4'11" tall, but I remember her as a tower of strength.  My father told me tales of his grandmother, who remembered traveling as a young girl in a covered wagon to escape Tennessee and the "advancing Yankees".  They dug up the silverware from it's burial place, and left it all behind to start anew.  My father was the youngest, by twenty years, of his siblings, so I didn't have the chance to ask very many questions of those who came before me.
     Both of my parents are gone now, and my 94-year-old aunt (the keeper of the family's history) just died this last week.  But I had the good sense to ask her several years ago to write down for me what she remembered about her father (my Grandfather died when I was two and I have no memory of him beyond pictures of him holding me.)  So I now have a permanent record of what kind of man he was; his principles and the high esteem in which others regarded him.
     My point in recounting all this?  I have a standard to live by because I was raised on the courage and the moral values of my ancestors.  I cherish the times I spent with my grandmother.  I learned valuable lessons in cross-stitching and knitting.   (I can't tell you how many times she patiently had me rip out stitches that didn't meet her quality inspection).  She taught me how to properly make a bed, with crisp, tucked-in corners; and my home-made cinnamon rolls still don't rate as high as hers.  She passed those reliable guidelines on to my mother, who emphasized them in my childhood.  It will be these "lessons of life" they taught me that will sustain me for what lies ahead.
     Perhaps my most valuable possession is the family Bible, which dates back to 1814.  In it are recorded the births, marriages and deaths of the long line of people that leads to me.  It is a reminder that it is not all about me.
     I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wanted to learn everything I could from those who came before me.  I wanted to learn from their experiences.  I wanted to feel that I could be as brave and determined as they were, in the face of adverse circumstances.  And I have a feeling that, very soon, I'm going to have the opportunity to prove myself worthy of their legacies.
     But my real concern is for our children.  They don't seem to care about knowing where they came from; instead, they are willing to follow whatever the latest celebrity or media guru tells them they should feel, think or say.  If you asked them to tell you what they've learned from their parents or grandparents, could they tell you?   Have we handed over the responsibility of forming our children's identity to some nameless entity that knows better than we do?  And most importantly, do they know that it is not all about them?  That the rewards of this life come from working hard, helping others, and giving glory to our God?
     Each of us have a story to tell --- and that story helps define our morals, our value systems, and our successes in life.  I owe whatever strength of mind and character I have to the examples that were passed down to me.  What are we passing down to the next generation?  PLEASE take the time to tell your children and grandchildren about overcoming difficulties; and teach them how to think for themselves.   They have inherited a rich history of resiliency and fortitude.  Teach them to embrace it.  They are going to need it!

Psalm 86:16     "Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did."
 

4 comments:

  1. I lost my mom in '09 and my wife lost her step dad and mom in '11 and we now realize we are it. I was telling somone yesterday I have no one to go to for family history, sage advice on gardening, canning, cooking, etc. I want to leave something for my girls. I too am contemplating fleeing Nashville, Tn because of the advancing Yankees.

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  2. You're so right! We are it! We're the last chance to keep our traditions, our values, and our principles intact. Adopt someone to teach you what you want to know. I'm betting there are lots of men and women out there with the knowledge we need, and just think of how valued you will make them feel. Let's not lose this information. Do it for your girls!

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  3. Amen, sister! I feel the same way. I was blessed to have grandmothers, grandfathers and other older relatives who enjoyed telling me the stories of their youth, the times they lived in, and the traditions of our family. I feel compelled to try a little harder when I am tired or discouraged, when I remember the things that my ancestors went through, and how they perservered. My paternal grandmother, especially, told me her personal stories of how she managed to raise three young children during the worst of the depression. She had taught herself how to do just about everything - from sewing all their clothes, growing and canning their food, to refinishing and recovering junk furniture to make it look just beautiful. Being the oldest grandchild, and the one who lived the closest to her, I had greater benefit of her knowledge than my other younger cousins did. I am trying to pass on this knowledge and attitude to my children and grandchildren. I feel like we will all need to rely more on this knowledge very soon.

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  4. As the beneficiaries of this valuable knowledge, I think we all agree that we owe a debt of gratitude to our grandmothers. One day, I hope those that come after us will recognize what we gave them. You are doing God's work and God bless you!

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