My parents gave me countless blessings as a child and young adult, but I’m realizing more and more how they enriched my life through withholding things as well.

  • I wasn’t given unmonitored television and movie privileges. I learned that just because it’s out there, it’s entertaining, it’s funny, or it’s something I want to watch doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. I learned that Mike Seaver was a liar to not model and Doogie Howser’s casual relationships were not as innocent as they looked. I learned that what I watch has an influence on who I become.
  • I didn’t always get new clothes; they gave me Jake’s (our old neighbor) old ones. I learned that clothes are less about looks and more about necessity.
  • I didn’t get a new bike; I rode my sister’s pink one until we could find a boy bike at a garage sale. I learned that old doesn’t mean useless, new is not always necessary, and you should make due with what you’ve got if it still works, even if other people look at you like you’re strange.
  • I didn’t get the option of not going to church. I learned that you do things because they are right and beneficial, often when your feelings speak differently. I learned that church should never be an option. I learned that Saturday is not the best day to stay up late, because Sunday morning always comes early.
  • I didn’t get a new car; I got the Lumina after my sister was done with it, and I drove it until the steering wheel smoked, the wipers wouldn’t turn off, the and odometer read over 200,000. I learned that a car is a tool, not a status symbol. I learned that nice stuff is nice but not necessary. I learned to ignore the wipers.

At the risk of sounding like an old geezer, our culture seems to be filled with kids who have an extreme sense of entitlement that parent give in to. I bless God that my parents struck a strong balance between needs and wants. They weren’t afraid to say, “No,” because in doing so they were acting in love. I’m sure I fought them at the time – I remember that pink bike – but I look back with gratitude.