Start on the right path

So, this one time, I woke up on a topless beach. I stumbled out from the dark cabin,  looked around and noticed everything wasn’t quite right. Eye-rubbing, yawning, squinting… all failed to erase the view, lots of women without clothes on, lazing around a beach. I was probably 8, my chaperone on this auspicious occasion? My Daddy.

I recently started reading some creative writing blogs, because I thought it might help with my writing. One author, C.S. Harris, said that when you introduce a character, you should always show that character first in his/her element, to show the forces that propel said character. For instance, if your character bakes, they should be placed first in a kitchen.

Since this is the first blog post exclusively about my Daddy, I’m telling you something right off the bat about him. I’m placing him, first, on a topless beach, surrounded by evergreens, on the shores of the San Jacinto river, just down the mottled sandy shore from a alco-hut that sold a giant margarita to an 8-year-old, to take to her dad in the boat.

That’s not the right foot to start on, but it does say something about how I came to know my daddy. It’s how his character was introduced to me, in those formative years.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. -Proverbs 22:6

 

My daddy isn’t a bad person, and he cares for me. I think he always has.  Now, our relationship is fine. I wouldn’t say we’re the closest father/daughter duo, but there’s no weirdness there. The problem isn’t that we don’t have a relationship, it’s that those early interactions started us going down the wrong path. We didn’t establish a clear parent/child line of demarcation. I sometimes felt, even at 8, that I was more responsible for him than he was for me.

It’s difficult to overcome one’s upbringing. That’s why the Scripture is clear on this point. If you start children on the right path, they’ll recognize that path and stick to it. If the basis of your relationship is shifting sand, the foundation is less sure.

Have you ever recovered from a rough start to a relationship?

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29 responses to “Start on the right path

  1. Kristin, wow. I don’t even know where to begin on that. It floors me how many people I’ve talked to through the years who have gotten so mixed up with the junk they’re in that they will involve their own children without thinking. I don’t think your dad had any intention of scarring you – he simply did what he knew. Sometimes, this is sad because people aren’t even aware how broken their lives are. Glad to see you’ve turned out to have a great head on your shoulders. And I have no doubt your children will have nothing but admiration and respect for their mother as they grow up.

    • I don’t think he did, either. He went through a time of his life where he wanted to be a kid and act like a kid and got in trouble like a kid. I just happened to BE his kid.

      When my kids are mad at me, they will say “You’re not my friend anymore.” I usually reply “I never wanted to be your friend; I am supposed to be your mom” 🙂

  2. The beginning does not have to determine the end, but it does if we let it. Good post.

  3. Um, yeah big time. My parents divorced when I was 3 and my dad was pretty much out of the picture (save a birthday card here and there) for my entire life.

    It’s a long, crazy story that ends unbelievably magical. Maybe I’ll write about it one day.

  4. Pop dukes wasn’t around, so I can’t say much more than that. As for recovering from a rough start to a relationship, I would say my wife. When I met her she didn’t want to give me the time a day. I was upset and one day I told her about it (I was kind of mean too). I was heartbroken.

    Not sure how God made it work, but He did, and here we are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. Go figure. 🙂

  5. In my late teens and early twenties I was really angry at my mother and blamed her for a lot of my problems. My sisters and I were abused and she didn’t protect us… various ways of setting bad examples… giving us the permission and too much freedom to run wild and do whatever we wanted… and so much more. After I got married I moved away and I pretty much let the relationship die. She didn’t seem to care enough to cultivate it either. We barely spoke for two years.
    But as I became a Christian and then a mother myself, God gave me eyes of love for my mother and showed me how she struggled in that period as a woman, as a human, and how she barely survived herself, let alone being able to take care of us. He taught me that I was His child and He had been watching over me all along, which sort of allowed me to free my mother from a lot of blame. He started to provide opportunities for us to re-build our relationship. For forgiveness. For me to speak Christ to her.
    It’s been an awesome decade and I am so glad to see what God can do with our most messiest messes. I’m so grateful to have my mother in my life as a friend. She is a jewel of a woman, and I believe that God is going to wake her up and make her even more fully herself, if you know what I mean by that. She is a good grandmother to my daughters. She is taking a lot of initiative to create good relationships with my sisters and with me and our husbands. I’m proud of her and am glad, now, to be her daughter.
    But still, God’s daughter first.

    • That’s a good story. It doesn’t happen over night, but God makes ways for us to be in Him and with one another. I know he’s working on that relationship with your mother and you’ll continue to see the fruits of that.

  6. Great post. Wow, I really enjoyed your writing. – I’m struggling writing good posts for my blog, but I want to write they same type of post as you – start with a story, include a scripture to go with it, followed by an explanation of how it all works together.

    I have to admit that I grew up in a pretty good home and my parents raised me and my two brothers pretty good. I do remember thinking as a child that when I grew up I wouldn’t have rules for my kids, and they could eat all the cookies and/or ice cream they wanted to! As an adult (though not married and no kids), I wouldn’t dare dream of letting my kids have free reign. That would just be a disaster waiting to happen.

  7. Kristin,
    You are very talented. When I got to the end of the post, I was kind of sad because I wanted to read more.
    About me, I had a great relationship with my father. He was very supportive (which is very important in for a girl) and an example for me and my sisters. Wait, there is a “but” coming. But… he is not saved.
    He always believed in God, but he thinks Jesus was a good teacher and a higher spirit. He is a very good man, everyone that knows him loves him.
    My mom is a pastor’s daughter, she was responsible for our religious upbringing, and she did a very good job. My father never put any obstacle to our going to church, on the contrary. He thinks everyone should have a religion, whatever it is. So he always said that he would support whatever religion we chose, and he always did.
    I still pray for my father, that God will open his eyes and his heart for Him. I am sure He will when the time is right.

    • Cris- I think that with parents and family members that don’t know/believe/commit to following Christ, the best thing you can do is continue to pray and be a living witness and testament to God’s redeeming power.
      Thank you so much for your post!

  8. I’m not sure. My wife and I met on strange terms and it turned out okay.

  9. I just want to say how much I admire your perspective here, Kristin. Our kids are all in their teens. We regularly receive compliments from others about how polite and well behaved they are. I thank God every day for His grace and for my awesome wife. Though I’ve tried my best to be a good Dad, I can’t help but stress about the times that I have been less than exemplary and how it might affect them. I’ve been parenting for 20 years and I’m still learning and growing. So far, so good.

    • I’m sure that your kids know and appreciate how much you love them. I think trying to do our best, even though our best is at best flawed and weak, gives our children a good example to follow. We cannot do anything good or worthy on our own, and displaying that need for God for them gives them an idea of how to manage the times when they don’t get it right… and when they do.

  10. Nope. My purposes are too focused and my time is too valuable to be wasted on trying to invest in something that grieves me from the start. The LORD has been faithful to me in setting clear and concise guidelines for me to follow in my relationships and acquaintances.

    Some would call that a character flaw. I call it removing the dross of doubt.

    Btw, I did like your story. I wish I could have been eight years old and waking up on a topless beach. (What?…I’m a guy. It’s how we think!) 🙂

  11. >>…I don’t cut people out of my life quite so easily.

    Kristin, I didn’t say it was easy. It’s simply necessary at times that our Father appoints.

  12. My dad and I had a strained relationship when I was younger, but we’ve gotten a lot closer as I’ve gotten older. I realize that a lot of our issues were due to my own stubbornness.

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