As the twig is bent, so goes the tree. Eighty per cent of your child’s character is formed by the age of five. Ruth Simmons is living proof. As a child she told one of her classmates, ‘Someday I’ll be a college president.’ That was remarkable, coming from the twelfth child of Texas sharecroppers. Little did Ruth Simmons know that it would be the presidency of Smith College in Massachusetts, one of the nation’s finest schools. Actually, she’s the first African-American woman to head a top ranked college. Since female presidents, specifically black ones are rare, let’s take a closer look. Most success stories begin with parents. In this case, the emphasis is on a mother who stressed the importance of hard work.
Ruth says, ‘I worked hard at everything I did – and not necessarily because I was interested in good grades, or looking for praise. No, I worked hard because that’s what I was always taught to do.’
Peter Rose, a member of the college search committee, said, ‘We wanted to cast the widest possible net, for the best possible person. What convinced us that she was right for the job was; her work ethic, her character, her strong academic performance, and the force of her personality.’ Parent, if you’ll take God with one hand and your child with the other, there’s no telling how far they’ll go!
When Pastor Haman Cross’s unmarried daughter told him she was pregnant, he was stunned. He’d written a book called Sanctified Sex and travelled the nation preaching ‘Just Say No!’ Now he was spending his nights listening to his wife sobbing and his days refereeing family feuds. He wrote: ‘I asked investing in her … forgiving her, as you’ve been God, “How do I model sensitivity and strength?” My answer continues to be, “No Lord, with your help we’ll make It.”’ when my family’s falling apart?” God replied, “Will you quit loving your daughter … James Dobson says, ‘Raising children’s like baking a cake – you don’t realise you have a disaster on your hands until it’s too late!’ In Luke 15, there’s a parable about a rebellious kid who left home and a caring dad who ‘left the light on’ for his return.
What can you learn from him?
1) He was a great role model for his kids.
2) He supported them financially and emotionally.
3) He gave them a heritage.
4) He guided them without forcing them to conform.
5) He gave them room to fail and a place to return.
6) He met them more than halfway.
7) He forgave them.
It’s not an indictment of you when your kids struggle, make bad choices or challenge authority. What does reflect on you, however, is your attitude towards them. They may still be ‘a great way off’ but they need to know that you care and that you’re waiting to welcome them back home.