Over the past several days I have gained a heightened awareness of what a great job my in-laws did at raising their children. My father-in-law, a well-educated man who loved to learn, passed away several years ago, but we are fortunate to still have my mother-in-law living within an hour's drive.
I was talking to one of my brother-in-laws on the phone, and we got on the topic of charity. His opinions so closely reflected those of my husband's and of mine that it gave me cause to stop and think how we all came to believe the way we do. His attitude was simple. If someone needs something and you can help, then you help. I'm convinced that he and his siblings learned this lesson first hand by watching their parents.
My father-in-law used to visit a friend in a nursing home every Sunday after church, usually taking several of his children with him. He did this for years simply because he couldn't imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a nursing home without someone to talk to. I doubt many of his friends were aware of this service, but his children certainly learned what it was to quietly serve another when it was needed. Ironically, when my father-in-law was in his final months of life, he lived in an assisted living facility and was visited by at least one family member every day right up until the day he died.
While my father-in-law was well-educated, my mother-in-law didn't attend college until her own children were all out of the house. I remember her telling me once of a class she took at the community college. The professor asked each student to share what their greatest accomplishment was so far in their lives. Many of the students were young professionals and the answers were understandably worldly. My mother-in-law's greatest accomplishment in her mind was that she had raised all five of her children to be good citizens. The professor was a bit surprised by her answer, but ultimately said, "I can't imagine a better accomplishment than that."
As many of us consider making new year's resolutions, I find myself hoping that I can simply duplicate my parents' and in-laws' success...to raise my children to be caring, responsible citizens.