Last year, Barbara and I had a wonderful experience that started our Christmas Holidays off on such a great note that I want to share it with you during this year’s Holiday Season. Following a late morning appointment we stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant. The most cheerful and smiling gentleman waited us on. While making the usual small talk, he mentioned that as soon as he got off work at the restaurant he was going to his primary job as a meat cutter at the local grocery store. The fellow looked about my age so I said, “Wow, two jobs? You must be putting a kid or two through college!”
His answer brought tears to our eyes! “I have seven kids… but only two still at home! Five are out on their own now, and supporting themselves. The two still at home are in college now. Won’t be too long before I won’t need to work two jobs!” And to me, the key was that he said all of this with that ever present big grin!
A Parent’s Sacrifice? Hardly!
I said, “Wow, what a sacrifice!”
In his answer we found an ace we could keep. He said, “It has not been a sacrifice at all, it has been worth every minute of the work. All of our kids are fantastic adults. One is a painter at the Chevrolet dealership in Whitefish, another has a construction business in Delaware, another is a teacher, another is a contractor, and the fifth is a Doctor! Oh that fifth one was amazing,” he said. “She had bad grades all through early days of school but then, one day in about the tenth grade, she just said she was going to become a doctor. She went to work, brought her grades up went to med school and now she IS a doctor! The last two are in college and it looks like we got lucky because all seven are going to turn out all right!”
No Luck Involved
“Sir, there is very little luck involved in how your kids turned out", I responded. “There was no accident in your home! The sacrifices you made on their behalf and the obvious work ethic you taught them is the reason that they turned out to be fine adults!”
This hardworking man, clearly, was a living lesson to his kids. Yes, he worked two jobs, but he did so gladly and cheerfully. Through his cheerful willingness to work hard in order to provide for them, he obviously had taught his kids to be their own miracles. None of them were raised to just sit and wait for luck, or good fortune to land on their doorstep. Each had been taught that they would become what they chose to become, and that each would get just about what they decided to work to achieve. It was interesting to us to observe that this loving father did not seem to place any more or less value or pride in the various professions of his kids. He was obviously, equally proud of the unique accomplishments of each child.
A lesson Taught by a Working Father
Another lesson he seemed to be teaching us was that parents must never give up on kids. Keep teaching them and eventually they will get the message. The daughter with the poorest track record in early school eventually went the furthest with formal education. As he put it, “I just never gave up on believing in her! I knew that someday she would find her dream!”
As he talked of his kids his eyes filled with tears and his permanent smile just got bigger. That father is a man who will probably go to his grave with little of material value to show for all of his long hours of work… but he will go to his grave a rich, rich man! He was important in the lives of his children. He delights in the really important things in life; his kids and his family!
So why do I share this experience about this simple, loving, hardworking man with you parents? Because his life is a living lesson to all of us; that loving, teaching, supporting, and believing in your kids is a wonderful way to find real meaning in life! I believe that parents who focus on the positives in their children while continuing to teach, teach, teach by word, deed, and example will find their days filled with a lot more joy and a lot less stress.
When it is all said and done, about the only footprint any of us will ever leave on the world will lie in what we have taught to our children.