“Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the glory of children is their parents.” –Proverbs 17:6
Wow! Now those are sentiments you don’t often hear in Western culture these days!
Maybe this was so relevant to me because last Christmas, just a month ago, was the first time my parents specifically asked me for a gift wish list.
I was staggered! They’d never asked me for a gift wish list before. They always got what they wanted to give me, not what I wanted them to get.
And why did they change last year? Not because of me. Because of the baby! (The wish list was for her, not for me. Sigh.)
It so reminds me of the first part of this verse. Seeing my parents as grandparents has added a whole new dimension to our relationship.
Yes, I knew they would want to be involved in their grandchild’s life, and so did we, but I was amazed to see how much they adored our baby daughter. They love to fawn over her, cuddle her, describe her every movement:
“She’s moving her hands! She’s picking up things! She’s babbling! She’s following us with her eyes!”
Etc., etc. – as though each tiny action was worthy of its own prize or medal of love. She really is her grandparents’ crown.
The change in my mom has been especially incredible to watch. She’s fairly reserved with strangers and doesn’t like PDAs (public displays of affection). But once, when I went out with her to an appointment with my optometrist, she came rushing into the office with the baby as I was checking out.
“Look, Tom!” she gushed to the guy who was writing out my glasses prescription. “This is my granddaughter!”
I’d never seen her so excited before. It was like she was announcing she had just won the lottery!
What about the other part of the verse: that our glory, as children, are our parents? Here’s where I think Western culture differs very much from other cultures.
My husband, for example, never refers to his parents by their first name. They’re always “Dad” and “Mum.”
Even my parents are never called by their first names. They’re always “My wife’s dad” and “My wife’s mum.”
It’s a code of honor integral to his very nature.
This also means treating parents with the utmost respect. Even when we disagreed with their decisions, we were still expected to obey them as children.
And now, even when we’re independent adults, their opinions and concerns carry a lot of weight with us.
How different this is from the typical portrayal of bumbling, idiotic parents in some family movies who are continually crossed by their sons and daughters, just because their children always seem to know better than to follow their parents’ foolish advice. Home Alone and several Disney movies, even Mary Poppins, come to mind.
I have to admit that I haven’t always done a great job of remembering that my parents are my glory. Respected them, yes. Obeyed them, yes (though sometimes a little reluctantly, ha!). But the older and wiser I get, the more I realize how important they are to our family.
Their counsel and experience are worth more than I can ever purchase. Their example and faithfulness over the years are a constant inspiration and challenge in my own life. And their love and support are unconditional.
They truly are my glory.
Also, having a child of one’s own tends to change one’s perspective. Right now my child does seem to see us as her glory. She smiles and coos whenever she sees us coming, probably because she knows we’re going to attend to her every whim and need. She falls asleep in our arms, probably because she knows she’s safe. Right now, we are everything to her.
What will happen as she grows older and more independent? I don’t see the typical teenager even wanting to appear related to their parents, let alone referring to them as “my glory.” Even for purely selfish reasons, my hope is that she will always remember how much we love her and wish her the best.
So this year is already going to be different for me. I guess one of my New Year’s resolutions has been to remember the importance of family – from the youngest, tiniest members to the oldest, wisest members.
I want to remember that my baby is my parents’ crown – and that my parents are also my glory.
And one day, I hope that my child will be able to say the same thing of me.