A Common Thread
When our first child was born in Rome, childbirth was definitely “old school.” There were no soft lights, colorful fish aquariums, or meditative tunes wafting through the room. This was brace yourself, breathe deeply, and push through each contraction. My wife’s Italian went a bit amiss, so I translated her “hee-hoo-haa” breathing technique into English. Then, in what seemed like an instant, all the months of discomfort and worry no longer mattered. Our son was born, and we became a dad and a mom.
Two months ago, my son became a dad. (I now have an Abrahamic pride that my line will continue.) Many people like to come up with original monikers for their children, but my wife and I have always valued drawing on names from our heritage. The name becomes like a thread linking the past generations to the present. We were glad our grandson was named Theodore Charles, after his two great-grandfathers.
We are all part of a family continuum, genetically tied to those who have gone before us. Each of us are the weaving of a thousand strands, passed from generation to generation. However, our common identity goes beyond genetics and DNA.
We often pass on our behavior traits to the next generation too. Some are good, and others are not so good. (I remember my dad once telling me how disturbing it was for him to see his bad traits appear in his children.) For better or worse, that is how genetics work. While we can’t control which genetic traits get passed on to your progeny, you can model behavior traits, showing your children and grandchildren how to live a godly life.
Our Christian identity is a great treasure that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. They are watching you, and you are influencing who they are becoming. In an age where youth are burdened with the task of finding their own identity, they need something that they can point back to and say, “that’s who we are!” Grandchildren who know where they came from have an easier time figuring out where they are going. You can help them choose the path that leads to life everlasting!
As we age, we gain a richer sense of identity. Let’s pass some of our riches on to our grandkids!
- Think of a story about your own parents or grandparents to share with your grandchild.
- Write a list of the things that make up your family thread. What are the values, traditions, and beliefs that make you who you are?
Greg Erlandson and his wife Corine live in Hyattsville, Maryland. He has four children and one grandson. When not visiting his grandson, he works as director and editor in chief of Catholic News Service, based in Washington, D.C.
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