Making choices that affect those around us

“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” 

― Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

It would be wonderful to tell you that I felt like I prepared my children for the future. But honestly, there were times when I worked diligently, just hoping they were prepared for school tomorrow and wondering if I would be prepared for next week.

My paternal grandmother, a devout Methodist, was quick to use Biblical scripture backing up her advice for raising children. That said, she humorously confessed her doubts about Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To hear her tell it, she had my father perfectly trained until “he went off to the Army where he learned all of his bad habits.”

My mother once expressed thoughts on her parenting, telling me she wished she had done some things differently in raising my sisters and me. I assured her that she apparently did a good job—just look at how great I turned out to be. In the event she didn’t buy that, I also suggested that her sentiment was likely one shared by many parents. Children, unfortunately, do not come with owner’s manuals.

While I concur with my predecessors on parenting, there must have been a bit of acceptable guidance involved in my children’s paths to adulthood. Along with a little luck and a lot of God’s blessings, I have two wonderful children, Robin and Lee, who I love and of whom I am proud to say, “Those are my children.” At 42 and 40, they have families and, like most of us, have thoughts of their own about preparing children for the future.

It’s hard to say where she gets it (wink, wink), but Robin has a penchant for sharing her thoughts through writing short essays on various topics, including parenting and the society in which she is raising her children. Maybe it started with our communication habits at home when she was still in school. Some nights Robin and I sat on the back porch and talked. Other times she would leave me long notes, and I would respond likewise. These days, she posts her thoughts on Instagram, a form of social media I know nothing about other than how to find some of her work. 

One recent piece resonated with me, and I am doing something I have not done in all the years I’ve been writing columns; feature the work of a guest writer. The following was written by my daughter, Robin Osteen, after the recent siege of censoring and blocking social media platforms and news outlets. She closed her Amazon account of many years and wrote the following to express her thoughts on the company’s termination of their hosting agreement with Parler because of political and social opinions with which Amazon did not agree.

“I support companies having every right to make their own policies, support the causes they believe in, and refuse to do business with causes they can’t in good conscience support.”

“But, if we are going to be a country that retains its freedom, individuals have to have enough backbone to put aside their own convenience and even security in order to stop funding entities that are vying for control over other’s freedom.”

“I don’t agree with everything shared on Parler. But I refuse to teach the next generation that the answer to bullying is to become the bully. If society deems disagreement, dissent, and questioning the current perceived reality as unacceptable behavior, the next generation will live as silent slaves to those who dictate and define acceptable reality.”

“Over the last two years, I have extracted myself from social media other than checking in once a week for about 30 minutes. My husband and all of my older children have come to me individually telling me how much better our life is now that I’m not glued to my phone. It’s been over a year since I went down to my half-an-hour-a-week policy and, it was a rough transition. But my relationships have gotten so much better, I feel more connected with my world, and my anxiety has decreased by at least one half.”

“You do what’s right for you. But know that the next generation will look back at the choices this generation made in this season. You are only one person, but the choices you make will affect the people around you. All I ask is that you choose intentionally and with courage.”

“One more thought for the road: We have always taught our children that responsibility and authority are inseparable. You cannot give another person or entity responsibility for an area of your life without also giving them the authority to call the shots.”

That’s my daughter. I’m thinking her children will be prepared for the future as well as prepare a better one for their children.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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