Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tanya Tyler: Son’s ideas about parenting show I must be doing something right
Editor’s note: The Rev. Tanya Tyler is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This is her first column on issues of faith and values that will appear regularly on KyForward.
Recently I was discussing the possibility of becoming a grandmother with my son, Dan, who’s 25. I’m not sure I’m ready to be somebody’s grandmother, but it’s always smart to prepare for all the contingencies life throws at you. Dan has some very concrete ideas of what kind of child he will have and what kind of father he will be.
“My kid is going to play some sort of sport,” said Dan, who played soccer, basketball and football himself during his school years and still enjoys a pick-up game of hoops at the Y.
“Even if it’s a girl?” I asked. “Will you let your daughter play football?”
“Yeah, if she wants to,” he said. (I was like, Yes! Thanks, Title IX!) “She just has to choose some kind of physical activity,” Dan went on. “I don’t want a slouchy kid.”
“I’ll take him or her to Keeneland,” I said, having always had a passion for horses and horse racing. “And we’ll cook together. Whenever your kids come over to spend the night with me, we’ll make cookies. I have to pass down the toll house cookie bar recipe.”
“And they’re going to grow up going to church,” Dan continued. “I did, and my kids will, too.”
I can’t describe how much it warmed my heart to hear him say that. Like many other people, I kept away from the church for many years, but after I had Dan, I knew I wanted my child to have a spiritual foundation just as I had when I was young.
I remember walking to Sunday school at the Salvation Army on 125th Street in New York with my mother and my two brothers. I still remember many of the songs I learned there. I remember the lighthouse offering bank – it lit up whenever you put a penny in the slot at the bottom.
My early memories of going to church are full of sunlight and shiny patent leather shoes and white gloves and the smell of the sand in the big sandbox in the middle of the Sunday school classroom. When we bowed our heads and closed our eyes in prayer, I imagined that Jesus walked through the rows, gently touching each of us on our heads in blessing.
I wanted Dan to have those kinds of experiences and memories, but I never made church a big deal when he was growing up. It was simply something we did: It’s Sunday, we go to church. End of discussion. No ballgames or other distractions were allowed to upend our schedule. I don’t recall Dan ever protesting having to go to church; in fact, when I was sick one Sunday, he insisted I call someone to come and get him and take him to church.
As he grew older, he went to church camp and has had some wonderful experiences there. He’s counseled there for the past few years. He has also served as a sponsor for our church youth group. And now here he was talking about taking his own yet-to-be children to church.
I was awed and gratified. I received living proof of the truth of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
I must be doing something right. Thank God.
In addition to being an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Tanya Tyler is a freelance writer and editor. She is currently serving as interim minister at First Christian Church in London.