Parenting Plants Roots for a Lifetime Ahead

Rick Kraft

I AM very proud of my parents. I cannot thank them enough. I was most abundantly blessed to be born into their family. They’ve been married 66 years and they have been great models for me.

I was able to spend a week with them recently, and I always treasure my time together with them. I had the opportunity to hug them and tell them I love them. I don’t take this for granted, as for many of you this is not possible. And there will be a day when it is too late for me also.

I credit who I am today to my parents. I’ll be 61 years old in a few weeks, and every step I take I still carry with me what they taught me as a child. I am who I am as a result of their efforts.

This reality is very important to understand for each of us on many levels.

There is a child being born as you read this. This assures us that the cycle of life will continue. Each child is a blank slate waiting to be written on. Although each precious child is one of a kind genetically, he will learn how to approach life from those who raise him. The early years of programming are the most important.

He will inherit his parents’ skin color. His faith will be shaped by what his parents teach him. His learning right from wrong will be programmed early. He will learn how to interact with others from how his parents handle fights with his sister. He will learn from his parents how to handle death when his favorite pet dies.

He will pick up hobbies or what to do in his free time by what is modeled by his parents. He will learn how a husband treats a wife and how a father treats his children from what he observes.

This is reality. This is life. This is serious business.

Each person I interact with has been programed by the adults who raised them. When I am talking with a 75-year-old man who is making good choices in a difficult situation, I tell him his parents raised him well. And I truly mean this. I may get a surprised look, but I recognize the man was programmed well in his youth. His parents may be long gone, but what they poured into him remains.

My parents are the beginning of my story. They continue to be part of my story as they still parent me six decades later.

I am who I am today because of my mother and my father. I am so honored that God chose to have me be born into their family.

My mother grew up a pastor’s child in Indiana and my father in a Christian home in Connecticut. They met at Wheaton College outside Chicago and got married the day before they graduated. A few years later they loaded up their belongings into metal drums and took a ship to Africa, where they intended to be missionaries the rest of their lives.

Later they both became college professors at Christian colleges in southern California and authored books. My father taught seminars around the world on spiritual warfare. Most important, through the decades of their journey, they made family a priority in the lives they lived.

I was born in Nigeria as the only white baby in the hospital. Growing up, I lived in Connecticut, Michigan, Nigeria again for a year and Southern California. With an older sister and brother who are twins and a younger sister, the four of us kept my parents busy.

I left home at 17 to go to college in Texas. Everything they programmed into me went with me. Forty-four years later, their programming continues to drive my life.

My parents raised me with Biblical foundations. We always had a church home and church friends. This core will be carried with me to my final breath.

My parents taught me right from wrong. They taught me how to treat others. They taught me education is important. They taught me family is important. They taught me I needed to do something with my life.

Most important, my parents made sure I knew they loved me, and because of that I am important to them. I wake up today a product of my parents.

My challenge to you is to understand the importance of parenting. Others created who you are. If you have chosen to parent, you are choosing who others are. Take this seriously.

If your parents are still alive, let them know how much you appreciate what they poured into you. If you are raising young ’uns, understand your very important role.

What you do with the young lives you influence will live on when you are gone. It will impact the countless lives they will interact with.

I am far from perfect, but who I am is a result of the love and training of my parents. What my parents gave to me will live on through me when they are gone. My job is to pass this legacy on to those who follow me. I don’t take this lightly.

Just a thought …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, published author and attorney. To submit comments, contributions or ideas, e-mail to