Children are, indeed, their parents' legacy
Published 8:16 am Wednesday, February 13, 2002
By By Brian Blackley, Publisher
The older I get, the more I realize that the people I have known in the past through my parents hold a strange, yet strong significance in my life.
The concept is odd and I am not sure I know how to best describe it. What does one call a friend of his or her father? Is the person also a friend? Or is the person "a friend of my Dad's"?
I don't know exactly, but I have a strong desire to tell of the friendship of a family close to my own and of how that family's troubles brought me to a startling and firm realization.
A couple of years ago, a man I knew as the father of two of my best friends and as a good friend to my parents got into trouble. I make no pretense of knowing the details and I make no pretense of wanting to know them.
But suffice it to say that trouble came calling and he was forced to confront it head on and without the kind of support that most of us would like to take with us in such a fight.
When I was asked my opinion on the matter, I didn't know what to say and if age has taught me nothing else, it has taught me to be good at saying nothing when the time comes to keep my mouth shut.
So I shrugged off comment and went on about my business, but the thought kept nagging me at those strange hours when I moved back and forth between dreams and the coherence that comes with being awake.
I would have cloudy foggy notions of what I though, but I lacked the ability to put those things in the proper context until I was watching my daughter one day in a moment of her weakness when she wasn't acting as I would have liked to see her act.
The incident stuck with me for a few hours until late at night as I collected my thoughts and prepared for sleep, a lot of things struck all at once.
I remembered why my daughter's behavior bothered me; for the same reason my bad behavior once (and probably still) bothered my parents. They said my actions were a reflection on them and there was no separating the actions of one another to a certain degree.
While I disagreed then, it suddenly hit me that they were right. Our children are the best and the worst of what we are ourselves, often becoming virtual caricatures of ourselves with all qualities exaggerated.
And my father's friend's (or my friend's father's, depending on how I view it) dilemma hit me. Despite any claims about what he had or hadn't done, there was one fundamental truth about him: He had raised two of the best children I have ever known into to of the strongest and healthiest adults I have ever known. They love their family, their community and their friends and are fiercely loyal to all three. They are, among all the people I have known, two people I am most proud to have had the honor to know.
They have productive jobs. They pay their fair share of taxes. They provide for their children and they look out for their family. They believe in God and they remain loyal to the childhood values so many of us have a tendency to leave behind. They are bright, fun, energizing and intelligent. And despite being afforded terrific opportunities and having access to all of life's vices, they have remained very simple people who make the world a better place for their having been in for these years.
Again, I don't know what men are made of, even those close to my family and me. But I do know that anyone who can raise children who are so fundamentally decent can't be so bad.
Character flaws aside, one of the most important contributions we can make as members of the human race is to raise our children to high standards of behavior and conduct. Certainly we can't make our kids become what we would have them to be and some kids are absolutely bound to be who they are. For those kids, we can only hope, pray and encourage.
But if doing so will yield properly behaved, productive members of the human race, we, as parents and as humans, have fulfilled a tremendous debt to our society. Our children are our legacy and anyone who raising them right, all other problems aside, as, at least, proven to be worthy of a huge amount of respect and praise.
Brian Blackley is publisher of The Atmore Advance. Contact him at (251) 368-2123 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.