Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Being Good"

     Growing up in my family was a blessing. I knew it then, and I know it now.  I incorporated a few "Be Good" philosophies in raising my own children, even if I may have wobbled a bit. The first "Be Good" I can remember is "keep your hands to yourself."  The "don't touch" rule was true at home with my siblings, as well as any store we visited.  It kept us from engaging in any kind of physical battle or touching  fragile objects that could easily be bumped in the store aisles.  If my own kids were following me into the store, I trained them to hold their hands together in front of them as they walked.  Much to my sister's and daughter's aggravation,  I instinctively hold that stance to this day as I go into a department store.
     Another "Be Good" memory was to "use your 6-inch voice."  This was evidently an utter failure in passing to the next generation as my delicate charges use football field voices.  It was no help to live in the country with neighbors safely living at a distance of a mile or so. And, it was also at their disadvantage to have a hearing impaired mother.
     The strongest "Be Good" advice I recall was "keep your name good" and "make me proud."  If I was ever in doubt of making the right choice, these words echoed in my brain.  That didn't mean I always made right choices, but I  was not left with a guilt-ridden conscience, but a feeling of pride that I was better than that bad choice.  I knew I had something to live up to.  Has this filtered into my own kids? I like to hope so --even if it not to the intense degree that I feel.  At least I know I am still very proud of my children and can only hope they continue to live their lives searching for their own conscience to guide them with maybe a little bit of their mom's voice humming in the background.


  1. This is wonderful and brings back my own memories. I don't think I hear or see these messages to children much anymore. I'm glad I grew up with them as well. In some families who experienced hard times from disasters, the Depression, whatever, having a good name was everything - and one's behavior. My brother told me about something he was involved in last week where a business associate didn't follow through on a promise or a follow-up call, at the very least. Later, the person said that when people say, "I'll call you.", they just mean it as a figure of speech. My brother was insulted and frankly, his feelings were hurt. He let the fellow know it was unacceptable. The person still took the stance that it just the way things are nowadays. It's not the way my brother treats people. I said, "That's because you're a gentleman." My husband and I love to watch old PBS mini-series about life in Victorian times and into the 20th century. We love the intimate look into a culture, striving for order, trying to do the right things and the challenge of being earthy human beings but "be good" and of course the unique humor. I like reading your work and who no doubt still says to her kids, "Hold your head high and remember who you are." You humming in the background cheering your children on makes me think of your many references to birds and your site picture of the three birds. I'm sorry about your hearing issues - have some of my own. That's a whole 'nother blog, eh? Simply talking on the telephone to loved ones is a challenge, especially with cell phones.

  2. Your sharing about your family - of origin - and your own children are priceless and sweet. Maybe you can tell people if they behave or if they exceed expectations/suggestions, that they can have a piece of your mother's Lemon Meringue Pie recipe - that you've perfected it! That was a wonderful story.

  3. Your writing today brings a deep compassion and love for my folks. They taught us so many fine things but sometimes found those ideals hard to live up to themselves. With great awareness on their part, it's a credit to them that they persevered after falling down. That's what I remember the most, that they were human and had the courage to make mistakes and not be shamed into giving up. Some of their issues were quite serious. Some family members are unforgiving. I share with my children that it's very lonely to be on a pedestal and that their grandparents and parents hopefully have given an example being proud, even when the rest of the world is sitting in judgment. A sense of humor is helpful, too, when the dust settles!

  4. Suzanne - Another incredible and thought provoking piece with substance and humor. My son called last night, after about 2 weeks of being very busy with work. We talked about his challenges in a what can be the abusive corporate world and when we hung up and I said, "Remember who you are and how proud your grandfather would be." He said, "Mom, you always say those things to me." Later, he sent a text thanking me for keeping his 5 year old little boy memories of my dad alive. Dad had some flaws but his love for his family was perfect. You are passing on this heritage on to your children and I know they will never forget. Three children are in the professional world and I have a child who is in the trades - works very hard with his hands under sometimes rough conditions. He is giving us our grandchildren children, along with step-grandchildren. He's such a great dad and giving his children these same lessons that you and others our age grew up with. My children are like apples and oranges. All of the children love the outdoors, work and play hard and that is such a blessing that these things can be their refuge but they also know all about books, Waterford and the importance of having a china pattern, even if I don't like what they chose! My husband and friends say that your blog has been such a great thing for me over the weeks. Have a great Sunday. Elise

  5. Suzanne - This piece still carries such a lovely and important message a week later. The messages - verbal and non-verbal - about how we give our children their foundation are the best gift we can give along with an example of deep faith. My children all now of different faith expressions and church affiliations but their messages about themselves are exactly the same. "To thine own self be true, because then you can be false to no man." Is that how it goes? To give them more esteem than that of a negative inner critic are the most important thing I can do. It comes from our parents, like a recipe. My children are at different stages and one is struggling with economy challenges and some days, a little frightened. I wish though a couple of my children were more interested in their heritage but they live it, so I have my wish! You planted the seed to say the "positive parent things" more often. I was becoming a little lax. Have a really good day. Elise

  6. This was so wonderful to read again after a sweet conversation with my son. It was easy to tell the kids, "Hold your head up. Remember who you are. There's a right way and a wrong way. Treat others with respect - but treat yourself with respect first. Your grandfather would be proud. Be able to smile at the person in the mirror. It's nice to be important but more important to be nice. The worst thing your enemies can do is make you just like them." The list goes on. There are days I don't think they remember - or care. You're right about them finding their own path. They do remember though! I need to remember to keep telling them these things - and that they are loved so much. They need us just as much as we need them. Even on days we think they don't care about the "messages," they do. No doubt, so do yours. You seem to wear it a more loosely and wait for the results. I need to get better at that! e


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