Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wife Rule #35: What Our Kids are Entitled To

Last week in church, I was sitting back a few rows from a beautiful family that combines the genes of a native Hawaiian with those of a native American. The resulting children are beautiful, with deep, brown eyes, and dark, tanned skin, and smiles full of brilliant white teeth. As I watched them converse and laugh quietly amongst themselves, I could that tell their parents adore them--and indeed, it would be hard not to on the basis of physical beauty alone.

Seated on the row beside me was another family, this one with a different mixture of genes among the children. There are several Caucasian children born to the parents, and two beautiful African-American children, the youngest in the family, that were adopted. These neighbors live close to me and I have observed them both in church and at home. I have noticed that there is absolutely no difference in the way the parents, or the older siblings, treat the youngest two children as compared to the others. Any physical differences in the children are inconsequential. Again, these parents adore their children, and it shows.

I'm sure that when these parents look into the faces of their children, they think they are looking at The Most Beautiful Children Ever Born.

Unfortunately, they're wrong. You see, my children are The Most Beautiful Children Ever Born.

I know what you are thinking right now. You are thinking: "You pompous, arrogant jerk, how can you say that when my children are The Most Beautiful Children Ever Born?" And that kind of proves the whole point of what this Wife Rule is about: Entitlement.

"Huh?" you insightfully respond to this revelation. Let me explain. I'm not referring to government entitlement programs. Nor am I talking about the obvious spoiled-brat tendencies of the kids of spoiled-brat thirty-somethings who still feel entitled to every luxury they grew accustomed to having while living in the house of a baby boomer. I'm talking about what my children--and your children--are truly, divinely entitled to.

Our Founding Fathers made a short list of these entitlements: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. My church adds to the list of entitlements for every child: birth into a family with a married father and mother who love each other and honor their marriage vows with complete fidelity. And I add to this list that every child is entitled to be adored as The Most Beautiful Child Ever Born by at least two people in this world, that child's mother and father.

When parents look into the faces of their children, they see miniature shadows of themselves--or at certain times, the best possible reflections of themselves. For that is what I see when I look into the faces of my children too. I see my wife's grace and beauty in the faces of both my daughters and my sons, which makes my heart surge with affection. But I also see myself in them--their countenances reflect my own image back, but somehow with an innocence and purity and grandeur that I don't usually detect in myself.

I am convinced that even without the striking physical resemblance my children bear to my wife and myself, we would still see ourselves in them. For they are products of our union--in a literal, physical sense, but more importantly in an exemplary, modeling, teaching sense. This ongoing influence is by far the more important one, for it never has to end.

I know this because I grew up in a home with all the essential entitlements I listed above. Even though I am far from the innocent little boy I once was, I still know that my parents adore me, and in turn, I still observe and learn from my parents. I still look up to and admire them; I watch what they do and why they do it. As I continue to discover special things about them that I never saw before, I try to learn to become more like them all the time.

Only now that I am a father do I realize how rewarding giving these entitlements to my own children can be. My wife and I are learning what my parents already know: that the beauty of our children is not so much dependent on physical features as it is upon the light and love that radiates from their countenances; and that light is greatest when it includes reflection from the beaming adoration and examples of their unconditionally loving parents. In other words, beauty begets beauty, and love begets love.

Every kid is entitled to some of that.


Jenny and Al said...

My Buddy really is the cutest baby in the whole world. Just FYI.

Mom said...

Thank you for your very kind comments. I do adore my children and think they are the best in the world. My grandchildren are lucky to have the parents they have.