Although my parents were divorced when I was a very small child, I come from a big Greek family. And like the movie (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), we regularly gather in large groups of all ages to celebrate everything from a soccer game to a wedding. I’ve many wonderful memories of my grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins eating, laughing, talking, and dancing together. In these gatherings, we learned lessons taught not so much by the words of my parents, but by their example. We learned everyone was significant and valuable and deserved to be respected.
My mother and her family, taught me that it was right and good to deny my own desires for the benefit of others. We spent many hours visiting grandparents, great aunts and uncles, listening to them discuss everything from religion to politics. We were to sit quietly, answer when spoken to, and eat everything placed in front of us – which I must say was not a problem as it was always delicious and we often received a dollar or two for good behavior. We learned to regard and even admire our elderly relatives, who placed a great deal of hope in our future successes. They came to America, worked hard and made sacrifices to give my mother’s generation an education and opportunities they hadn’t had. My mother had in turn made sacrifices on behalf of my brother and me and it was understood we were to follow in her footsteps.
With my father’s family, I remember enjoying the banter between my dad and his sisters. Even when they argued, it seemed like there was fun behind the words and laughter often followed. Their stories growing up gave us a glimmer of what our father was like as a child. We laughed and even cried with them. We learned devotion, acceptance, and patience from them. They made us feel loved and appreciated.
I share all of this in a home school blog this morning, not simply to relate my experiences, but to encourage you to take every opportunity to teach your children to value people of all ages. It happened naturally in my family where generations blended and bonded together. But today, as families are more distant and removed from one another’s lives, there are fewer opportunities to demonstrate this lesson at home.
Homeschooling communities, however, provide the opportunities to teach this lesson. We often gather intergenerationally and serve others as a community. In our own homeschooling family, babies are celebrated and enjoyed, children are corrected and encouraged, parents are obeyed and admired, and elderly are served and respected.
There are times to deny our own pleasures and times to bask in them. There are times to serve, work hard, and give to others without regard to one’s own preference, and times to receive the service of others graciously.
These are lessons we teach at home, and hope our children will learn them and teach them to their children.