Our daughter was about twelve when she had one of the happiest moments of her, then young life.

That was when her mother took a pile of tacky Christmas sweaters to a drop-off for donation. I didn’t hear Natalie say, “Hot diggity dog,” only because she doesn’t use that term. She also didn’t say, “Praise the Lord,” because 12-year-olds don’t typically say that.

However, I think what she would have said if pressed would have been, “This is one of the happiest days of my life.”

Sheri had collected an assortment of tacky Christmas sweaters over the years. I don’t know where she got them. I take no credit or blame, knowing that my taste in sweaters is much better than that. Surely, I would not have picked out something that hideous for a Christmas gift. Admittedly, I’m a bad shopper, but not that bad.

Since she was a teacher, I’m guessing that the hideous sweaters had been gifts from students over the years. What do you do when someone gives you a really bad gift? You smile, and say “Thanks,” though under your breath, you are muttering something unprintable. So, if she got them from students, then she had lots of students with bad taste in sweaters, because folks, I’m telling you, she had some bad sweaters.

Twelve-year-olds are always embarrassed by their parents. But in this case, Natalie was right. Heck, I was embarrassed by those sweaters. “You aren’t going to wear that, are you?”

Several years ago, I drove a Buick LeSabre, a car that our then, twelve-year-old son, Tyler, despised.

None of his friends’ parents drove that make and model and he called it the “preacher mobile,” which interpreted meant, “Not cool.” He hated that car and was embarrassed to be seen in it. When I took him to school, he wanted to be dropped off in Heard County. He said he would walk the rest of the way.

Well, his prayers were answered one day when a young college girl decided to play bumper cars with my beloved LeSabre and made it look like a pretzel. The young lady who hit me was OK, and I kept assuring her at the accident scene not to worry about it. In fact, I told her that my son might want her autograph. She had done what he had only dreamed of doing. The word “totaled” brought a smile to his face as wide as an SUV.

As far as our children were concerned, at the age of 12, tacky Christmas sweaters ranked next to Buick LeSabres.

I love both of our kids, but I was surely glad when our son (who’s now 28) got to the point where he wasn’t embarrassed by us. I think that happened when he was 23. I think I am a pretty cool dad—I listen to Taylor Swift without barfing, I own an iPhone 8 (and kind of know how to use it), and I know who Billie Eilish (singer, songwriter popular with kids) is. I would never intentionally embarrass our children—I don’t wear bell-bottom jeans or tie-die shirts, though I have been known to go for a walk in a
Beatles t-shirt. I have decent public manners.

I don’t live to be liked by my kids, though that would be nice. I live to be the best parent I can be, whether that makes me cool or not. The Bible doesn’t say much about parenting teenagers, and you might not want to take the advice of the writer of Exodus 21 who says, “Stone them to death when they
are smart alecks.” (My paraphrase.)

Why doesn’t the Bible give some advice about what to do when your kids are embarrassed by you? You know, advice like, “Be patient, they will grow out of it,” or “Take their cell phone away for a month,” or “Make them listen to tapes over and over of the preacher’s (oops, that’s me) sermon on Eschatology.”

On second thought, I would have been really embarrassed if my dad had been Noah (drunkard), Abraham (liar), Jacob (double dog liar), Samson (womanizer), David (womanizer, murderer), Solomon (womanizer 750 times, not counting his concubines), or any of those other Old Testament characters, who all had really big ethical lapses. I guess their kids would have been really happy if the biggest embarrassment they experienced was that mom wore tacky Christmas sweaters and dad drove a Buick LeSabre.

Let’s make everyone proud of how we act, even if they aren’t proud of how we dress or of what we drive.

~ Pastor Steve

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