This month, thousands of people will gather in Washington, DC, for the annual March for Life. My 16-year-old daughter, Maddie, will be one of them. She’s going with her high school’s Saints for Life club to show her support for a cause about which she feels strongly.
I have to confess, though, I was a bit perplexed when she first came to my husband, Mark, and me to ask if she could go on the trip. I knew she had joined this club, but I also realize that she is a teenager, and it seemed we had just recently had a talk reminding her that the world was bigger than just her. I wondered if she wanted to go just so she could go on a trip with some of her friends. Or was she really invested in the purpose of the trip?
So, I asked her why she wanted to go. She thought for a moment and then said, “I want to go to see what it’s like.” Aha! I knew it. This was more about just going on the trip and less about why she was going.
But she wasn’t finished. “I want to go because someone needs to speak up for the babies who can’t speak for themselves. I want to be that someone.” Cue the proud mom.
Are They Listening?
I always worry whether my kids are actually listening to the lessons Mark and I attempt to impart on them. I am also painfully aware, however, that I can only teach them so much before they will begin to chart their own paths. So I am overjoyed that Maddie is making this step into establishing her own convictions and backing them up with her actions.
As my kids get older, I remember something my mom told me once. I asked her how she handled three strong-willed girls who definitely had their own opinions on things. Her answer: “I prayed—a lot.” In hindsight, I remember the candles burning in front of the statue of Mary. I recall the sound of Mom’s rosary beads when I would pass her room at night.
Suddenly, all those things are beginning to make more sense. I know I still have some time with my two youngest, but even 9-year-old Riley is beginning to develop her own opinions on things as she begins to encounter certain issues in school and life. She has been known to voice her opinion on any number of topics, from current events to the stereotyping of boy-versus-girl interests. The best I can do is guide her, and lead by example. So that’s what I better make sure I’m doing.
One of my least favorite parenting lines is, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Yes, I probably have used it a time or two, but I still feel like it’s a cop-out. Because, let’s be honest, our kids are going to do what they see us do—no matter what we say. What are we modeling for our children? Are we standing up for what we believe? Are we doing something regarding the issues about which we feel strongly? How we do that modeling may be different from what our children choose, but that’s OK. At least they’ll see us doing something, and know that they, too, need to do something.
So Maddie is in DC this month with her father’s and my blessing—and prayers. The rest of our family will be at home in Cincinnati finding our own ways to honor the cause for which Maddie will be marching. I ask for your prayers for her and her classmates—as well as all those at the March. I hope from this experience Maddie will learn the concept of standing up for what she believes in, and that her voice is powerful and needs to be heard.