Saying it would never happen to me, I have found lately that it has. I am turning into my mother, at least when it comes to quotes, quips and proverbs. For years, I remember both my natural mother and my grandmother in whose home I lived the early years of my life having a saying that just popped out of their mouths when it seemed to be needed — and sometimes when I did not think it was. I vowed I would never burden my own children, their contemporaries, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends with all those old wives tales and quotes. I just can’t seem to help it. Out they come before I can stop myself.
Today, I had occasion to find a perfect use for one my mother quoted often during my growing-up years. If she thought a mother or a dad, or God forbid a grandparent, was expressing too much pride in a child for something rather insignificant or something my brothers, sister, and I were expected to do, invariably she would say — and loudly, I might add — “Every old crow thinks his is the blackest” (emphasis on the “old” here). Heavens knows that I knew little about crows other than they were black and often made a lot of noise, but she loved this saying and I secretly think she found opportunities to share it as often as possible.It took me a long, long time to get it. I actually probably never understood the concept until I had my own children, and then it really hit home in my heart and life when I first had grandchildren. A good grandparent just can’t help it. The natural pride and belief that their offspring is somehow special and will certainly do great things in this old world is a given. And before I knew it, I was bragging. I had the string of recent photographs handy to show family and friends, and before very long, this became books of antics, posed and candid. We had all of the usual plays, musicals and events at school and church, and yes, I insisted on various relatives being present when possible.
According to Dr. Alan Greene, a well-known Princeton graduate and pediatrician, “Taking pride in our own accomplishments or those of our children is a healthy thing. Requiring us or our children to continually accomplish things is not healthy. We need to learn to express our pleasure with our son or daughter on an ongoing basis and to tell him or her that we are proud of him at specific times.”
The incident that I witnessed that prompted this article was where a parent was over-protective, overzealous and somewhat unkind to other kids to see that her own “crow” was seen as the blackest in the group. This child is the only one in the family and it seems he has been doted upon his entire life by not only the mother who sees that the father does what she suggests, but by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and some neighbors and friends. I have discovered the child to be nice, well mannered and kind, and somewhat embarrassed about his mom’s conviction that he must always win, be No. 1, and be thought of as excelling.Truthfully, when the child is in my home, he has fun. He laughs, he loves to eat and he is a good sport. He makes jokes about his mom’s constant need to know that he’s well. All of his good friends simply accept the fact that his mom has to be in control of every aspect of his life or she is unhappy and makes their friend unhappy and unable to participate in many of the common activities that he’d really like to be doing. It is sad to see him left behind simply because she will not agree to let him participate. I am speaking of planned, supervised, safe activities.
So how do we balance this “black crow” syndrome with life in the real world? We must love our children and make them know we love them. The Bible teaches in several references that our children are our heritage from the Lord. It is up to the parents and other adults placed in their young lives to give direction, education, encouragement and leadership, but at some point, they must learn to make their own decisions.
One of the best things I have read on the subject also has to do with birds and young folks. We give them roots and instilling our pride in them is one of those strong ties, but we also must give them wings so that they can have the tools to build their own lives. God knows, parents will not always be with these children, and they will have to make it on their own.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.