Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When Parents Pursue Passion

Sometimes, the children really suffer.

I discovered this episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a show I never watch, and was drawn into it by the beautiful display of natural hair and happiness.  Every member of the family looked genuinely joyful and healthy.

I simply couldn't believe the condition of the house.  There was an older man who commented that the house didn't reflect the family and I really had to cosign.  The place really looked like it ought to have been condemned!

At first, I was happy that a family who had been giving so much to others would get this wonderful opportunity of having a new house built for them.

But as I kept thinking about it, boy, I started to get a little upset.

I grew up with parents who, like this couple, were committed to their calling.  They felt that had a purpose and really poured their energy, time and money into it.  My parents sacrificed a lot to do what they felt they were called to do.  And you know what?  Their children really went through a lot of nonsense because of it.

While to my parents credit, we never went hungry, we found ourselves growing up in a pretty rough neighborhood with poor schools in a house that was always in need of repair or simple maintenance.  We watched as other people on the block, all owners of these newly built houses, added on and did things to keep their houses up.  Meanwhile at our house, something was always broken or just not replaced--looking run-down and neglected.  And while it never got to the extent of the house featured in this episode, it still left us knowing that our parents' priority was not our house.  The place where we called home.  It left us with the sinking suspicion that our parents' priority was not us.

See, now that I own a house and a very old house at that, I realize that it's expensive to maintain a house.  I mean, it's expensive to do the things to keep it running like keeping the water and heat on.  But there's other aspects of maintenance too that can get pricey.  But I've also realized that with just the littlest of know-how, sweat, and a trip to Home Depot, you can do the basic things to keep up a house.  Paint.  Change exposed plumbing.  Replace broken/missing tiles.  Find ways to keep vermin out.  I get it:  not everyone is handy but it seems to me that if they money is not there to pay people to do it, it's time to get resourceful and figure out how to do it yourself.  It might not look professional but I really believe a little bit of effort at it, goes a long way.  I believe in things functioning more so than things looking good.  (Although things that function and look good is a very pleasant thing indeed.)  Another way to go about it is to earmark small amounts of money yearly (like half of your tax return) to get one major project completed every one to two years.  That is, to me, the responsibility of owning a house.  If you're unwilling or unable to take it on, rent.

So it kind of upset me.  I got upset for those 5 lovely girls.  These girls clearly deserved that beautiful house that was built for them.  But will their parents keep it up?  I certainly, certainly hope so.

As parents, we have a right to pursue our passions and work at our callings.  But I don't think we have complete freedom to do that.  We really have to think about how it affects our children.  And sometimes we have to go about things in a different way to make sure that our children are living in a safe and healthy physical and emotional environment.  Clearly, the girls in this family are happy and healthy emotionally--despite what the house looked like and for that, I am willing to give the parents a great deal of credit for that.  Many families with pristine, newly built houses complete with all the amenities cannot afford their children a safe and healthy emotional environment.  It goes to show that you don't need a lot to be happy and I'm proud of the way these parents have fostered a sense of contentment in their children.

I'm overjoyed that this way overdue makeover took place and I hope that with some of the publicity, more money and resources will flow into this family so that the parents can continue to follow their passion of helping couples while maintaining that beautiful house for their children.


Mel said...

I think you've got a really interesting point...I personally find it hard to take anyone seriously who lives for a social change passion but has a run-down house and doesn't prioritize their family. To me, that makes that person a liar. Not trying to be harsh on the family in that episode, but I've seen so many pastors and counselors and activists etc. with seriously neglected homes and home lives that that's the FIRST place I look when someone comes talking to me about how the world should change, etc...

Anonymous said...

Instead of writing this boring education reform critique, I'm boohooing over the video AND the blog.

I completely get where you're coming from and this situation hits all too close to home. Except there was no film crew at the end to save us.

Interestingly enough, those issues continue to follow me in life and it's kind of weird not to really see it and its effects until you're out of it.

Thank you for sharing this.

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