I can’t count the number of times people have told me I am so lucky to have such good kids. They see them sitting in church or gathered around a table if we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go out to eat, respectful and quiet, acting in a manner appropriate for the occasion. We can take them anywhere with us and know that they will behave.
When people engage my children in conversation the kids are excited to speak with them, are able to hold a conversation, and are typically very polite. They have smiles on their faces and are genuinely happy.
They are often the first to volunteer to help others and, more often than not, when they see someone sad, they look to comfort them. They don’t know a stranger and most of the time (they are human after all!) they try to treat others with love and respect. They are naturally funny and tend to make others laugh and smile. They really are “good” kids.
I love to hear the compliment that my children are so well behaved or that they are great children. I agree with the person complimenting me! It makes me feel good and I know that it makes my kids feel good too. I beam with pride when someone tells me that they love my kids and love to be around them. I am appreciative that others can see what amazing kids they are.
But am I truly “lucky” to have such good kids?
It may seem crazy to also be a little off-put by this statement, but it bothers me when people tell me how “lucky” I am. I know those who say it mean the best. They see other kids who don’t act right in public or are doing things that make you cringe in disappointment. They look at my kids and see wonderful examples of how they feel kids should be behaving. They look at them and see “good” kids. I appreciate the compliment that they are trying to impart, I really do. But, a part of me always cringes at the remark too.
First, I think that all children are “good”. Maybe they make bad decisions or their life circumstances are such that they haven’t been taught how to behave; but God has made all His children good. There is not a single person in this world that was made evil or bad. God doesn’t work that way. Each and every person is made in the image and likeness of God and so that means that each person is made good. Every person who has a child is “lucky” to be blessed with a good one. God doesn’t make anything less than goodness!
Second, our children mess up, and mess up badly. Most people don’t see what I see. I don’t talk about the mistakes our kids make because I know they don’t want their faults shared. It’s important that I not make them out to be people they aren’t, but at the same time, it’s important that I don’t spill all their faults and mistakes to everyone either. I try to make sure that they have privacy to work through the mistakes they make and the hurts they both inflict and encounter without others judging. Because I don’t share their aberrations or failures many often assume they never make them or that I want people to think they are perfect. This is not the case. It is simply out of respect for my children that I choose to keep their failures or lapses in judgment out of the public light.
Lastly, there is a lot of hard work that goes into teaching our children how to behave correctly. Telling me I am “lucky” makes me feel like all the work I have done means nothing. I’ve been at this gig for 23 years now and I still work hard each and every day to instill values and encourage proper behaviors in our children. From discipling even when I want to laugh instead to loving them when I want to scream; volunteering and being active in their lives even when I feel overwhelmed and tried, constantly trying to modeling desired behaviors and act right myself, and praying with the patience and the endurance of a saint- it’s a never-ending job! There are days that are so overwhelming that I want to give up, but I don’t because I know the rewards are great- both for the kids and for me. I may cry, I may yell, I may fall to my knees begging for God’s help, but I know that this job of helping to form the hearts, minds, and souls of my children is the most important one I will ever do. Prayers for strength and stamina, not luck, go a long way when I feel like I am not capable of doing the job in a manner that both pleases and honors God.
I am truly thankful that others love my children as much as I do. I thank God for the people He puts in our path each and every day. I appreciate the fact that those who know my kids think they are amazing and “good”. It brings joy to my heart to think of my children sharing happiness and hope to those who may not feel like there is much to be happy or hopeful about.
While I am not “lucky” to have good kids as I have worked hard to instill joy, love, kindness, a strong work ethic, respect, happiness, and hope within each of my children, I am very lucky that God has blessed us with people in our lives who love our family, who cherish our children for who they are, and who want to share in our lives.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.