When I was doing my student teaching, my cooperating teacher asked me, "How did you become a good disciplinarian?"
Her question caught me off-guard because:
1. I didn't realize I was a good disciplinarian.
2. I didn't remember receiving any training regarding discipline.
She shared that it was one of the things she struggled with the most so I promised I would honestly consider her question so I could answer her. The next day, I told her, "My discipline strategies are a natural reaction to the actions of the students. I learned that from my parents; they were great disciplinarians."
It's a true statement. Active model discipline was alive and well in my house when I was growing up, and I suppose I internalized more than I thought. I learned to respect authority and honor the position of the person in authority over me. (*ahem* That doesn't mean I never tried to flex my verbal muscle at the authority figure. But I definitely knew what was right. And when I forgot? I was clearly reminded.)
But now that I consider some of the things for which I'm most thankful, I realize how much I internalized from my parents' example. As I discussed the concept of fluency with my grad class, I realized I am a fluent reader because my parents valued reading and education. My mom constantly read to us and made us view the regular book fairs with as much anticipation as our own birthdays.
They expected from me--not just in matters of education, but also in social situations. I can clearly remember a circumstance from jr. high in which several of my classmates and I mercilessly played a cruel joke on another girl in the class. When my mom heard about the situation, she called the girl's mother, asked for an address, put me in the car and drove me to her house. The entire way there, I got a lecture on appropriate ways to treat others. When we arrived at our destination, I wasn't just expected to apologize to my classmate. I was expected to share the story with her mother and apologize to her also.
That story is just one in a long string of incidents that taught me what it means to see and value other people. (My brothers have their own stories.) While I can promise that I wasn't a quick learner on that front, I can also guarantee my parents' consistency in teaching me what it means to appreciate others. The fact that I can observe and understand people decently is a testament to their dedication.
Mom and Dad painted a beautiful portrait of marriage. When I make that statement, I don't mean their marriage was always perfect. But they made the relationship look enticing. I knew early on that marriage is never perfect, but it can be completely fulfilling. Mom and Dad showed us the necessity of the unified front. It was a rare event if Ronnie, Tim or I were ever able to "divide and conquer" in order to get what we wanted.
Dad and Mom taught me that parents fulfill a lot of different roles over the course of a child's life. When I got married, they rarely offered opinions and encouraged me to make decisions with Favorite. But when I was 15? They weren't just a part of the decision making process--they were the Supreme Court of decisions.
Mostly, I think I want to be a parent because of the way they value their relationships with me and my brothers. If I can be a tenth of what they were to me, I would consider myself an awesome success.
I am thankful to have them around because they are teaching to navigate some of the rockier parts of life. They encourage me to do it with my eyes on Christ, but they don't have delusions of grandeur about their own downfalls. Instead, they are a realistic example of the refinement process.
I've been blessed to have them. To learn from them. To laugh with them. Now that I'm an adult (*sigh*), I realize that I need parents less than I need friends--but they've been exemplary in that position, too.
I've got a lot to learn about patience, consistency and encouragment. But I have some pretty solid examples who are taking the modeling process fairly seriously. By now, they probably realize their job as role model is never really over.
And I'm so grateful.