I think this quote might have come Pastor Freed’s blog, Jack’s Winning Words, but I’ve had it around for so long that I can’t remember. It just reads like something that he would post.
“Once you are a parent, you’re the ghost of your child’s future.” (From movie: Interstellar)
There is a series of humorous ads on TV about not becoming your parents and we hear the phrase “Dad jokes” a lot these days. The truth is that parents and what we see them do as we are growing up do have a huge impact on how we turn out. Children watch how their parents act and react and try to emulate them, either consciously or unconsciously. That can be good or bad, depending upon what they see and hear. Will they see the ghost of Casper the Friendly Ghost or Beetlejuice?
Courtesy, kindness, and compassion are all learned responses towards others; however, disdain, hate and prejudices are also learned responses. Which will your children pick up from you? Casper or Beetlejuice?
Many young couples spend a few years together before they have children, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. During that time, they can easily slip into a very self-centered relationship where the lack of responsibilities (and expenses) for anyone else (i.e. children) allows them the freedom to indulge themselves. For them, the arrival of the first child may be a traumatic change in lifestyle. Suddenly, they are not free to come and go as they please or spend on whatever they want. In some cases, the wife’s shift of attention from the husband to the baby causes tension and resentment in the husband. It is life changing, but not life (or marriage) ending. How are you reacting to the baby? Casper or Beetlejuice?
Once the trauma (and drama) of becoming a parent has passed, it is time to settle down and deal with the responsibilities. It is not just about providing for the physical wellbeing of the child. It is about the responsibility for their future, for who and what they will grow up to be. It is your role as the ghost of their future. It’s about what will they learn from watching you. Casper or Beetlejuice?
One aspect of life in particular seems to have been lost or at least taken a secondary role in the lives of many parents in the last few generations – religion. Do your children see you taking them to church and Sunday School on Sunday mornings or do they see that sleeping in or that being out at the soccer/baseball/football field is more important? Do they see you bowing your head in prayer at the dinner table or watching the evening news on TV? Have they ever even seen you lift a Bible, much less read from it? What are they learning about God and religion from watching you? Casper or Beetlejuice?
And what are your actions towards and reactions to other people who are not just like you? Do they see and hear you being understanding, compassionate and friendly towards people who are of a different color or ethnic group or sexual orientation or do they hear racist or homophobic or ethnic slurs either shouted or under your breath? What do you think they are learning from that ghost? How will that impact their future. Casper or Beetlejuice?
You may be saying, “But, I didn’t choose to be in this role.” Yes, you did, wittingly or unwittingly. It is no longer “All about me”; it is now “All about we.” Now, it’s time to grow up, show up and own up to your responsibilities. You are now in the spotlight and your performance is being judged and emulated. You are the ghost of your child’s future. Which will it be? Casper or Beetlejuice?