Family Survey, 2018

Family Survey, 2018

[NOTE: I wrote this family survey in November of 2018, sent it to our adult children, and received very interesting comments from all of them.]
Hello to you wonderful adult children,
I’d like to take a family survey. Please think about this and respond after you’ve had some time to reflect on these matters. My hope is to take your responses and then compose a blog post, without mentioning names, about the ways your mother and I tried to raise a family… which is you, by the way.
Here’s what I want you to reflect on: As you know, your mother and I were heavily influenced by a converted orthodox Jewish man by the name of Haskell Stone. This was in Detroit before we were even married. He opened up scripture to us like no one before or since. Ever since then, Sheri and I had decided to raise you in a rather unconventional way… celebrating the fulfillment of Jewish biblical feasts and holidays in Jesus Christ, embracing the Jewish roots of our Christian faith. We believed it was a good way to teach the Faith to you our children, and to raise you with an awareness of the importance of Jesus and Scripture in our lives.
So, we celebrated the Passover quite regularly in family life, complete often with special guests. And also, though not as regularly, biblical events like Tashlich (we gather stones as we walk in the dark with flashlights to a creek or river, and we throw the stones into the water to recognize God’s forgiveness of our sins, removing them forever); Sukkah (we made a temporary hut in the backyard to symbolize the Jews in the wilderness, and our journey in this life, and how God protects us during our temporary journey before God provides a permanent shelter for us in the next life); Sabbath (on a Friday night, with candle lights and a nice meal, we prayed the Sabbath liturgy and I would put my hand over each of you and pray a fatherly blessing); House Blessings (we would invite a priest over to a new place in which we live, and we walk around the whole house offering up prayers in candle light, dedicating all the space to God and His purposes); Communion (we would make sure we participate in churches where we celebrated communion every Sunday, including all of you no matter the age); Parental Commitments (mom taught Bible studies for 45 years and committed herself to God, family, hospitality and general saintliness all that time – and I worked as an educator for children of all ages, and was committed to racial reconciliation and pro-life matters, as well as to God and family); Holidays (we would often try to do something interesting for the holidays, like Christmas Eve at Duke Chapel late at night, or Easter vigil, or a family-oriented Thanksgiving, or birthday celebrations, or whatever); Dinner Table (we believed in the sanctity and importance of the dinner table, and how it was not a time to talk about work, or school matters like homework, or house details, but to have a discussion about more important things).
There are so many ways in which we could have been better parents, and we all know there are no perfect parents. But Sheri and I have worked hard through the years, and have a million memories of a fulfilling home life, and how we tried to raise you kids. I want to write a blog post about that.
So here’s the survey… Of those things I’ve mentioned above, and maybe what I have forgotten to mention, what do you remember fondly and meaningfully? Who do you think helped shape you into the wonderful person that you are? Do you have memories of your early life that were life-changing, or interesting, or was it more the repetition of these things? Was there one incident in particular that you remember that affected you, or the sheer number of things that helped guide you?
Mom and I certainly don’t take credit for shaping you into your wonderfulness. You are a mysterious composite of God’s grace, your choices, your genes, life events in and out of your control, etc. But we do believe we chose a somewhat different path in raising a family. And I’d like to write about that after hearing from each of you.
Please respond when you’ve had time to collect your thoughts. You all are our pride and joy. Thanks for your time on this.
Mercy and Peace,
Dad (Pops, Pappinator, Daddy-o, Father)