Bank Accounts

My husband uses an illustration in teaching on childrearing that can help parents keep a perspective on what it is they are doing day in and day out. And here it is. When you love your child by giving them attention and love in many and varied forms, it is like putting money in their bank accounts. Whether it is singing to and with them, playing those silly games, making eye contact when they talk to you, caring for them, feeding them, and bestowing good things on them, all these things are deposits. As they get older, it may mean listening, shopping, helping, driving, being at their games, helping drill them for tests, or hosting the parties at your house. By being cranky, short-tempered, distant, stingy, critical, or overly-protective of them, you are keeping the account in the negative numbers.

Some children grow up with pretty fat accounts which means they feel secure and loved and happy. Other kids are just squeaking by, barely making it. So fast-forward to when a daughter is age sixteen. Let’s say that some guy is showing her attention and wants to take her on a date. Dad, who has been loving her and bestowing on her for sixteen years, tells her something like, “No way, Jose.” This is Dad writing a check, and because he has put a lot in the account, the check doesn’t bounce. Daughter happily complies. But if the account is pretty low, when Dad writes a check, it doesn’t clear. He says, “No,” but his daughter flips out about it, doesn’t understand, or just won’t go along at all. It’s pretty tough to cover the check even if he really needs to write it because the young man who wants to take her out is a bum. And though it’s still possible to start making some deposits, it’s mighty late now when you need to start writing some checks.

Think about your kids and start loving them up.

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14 thoughts on “Bank Accounts

  1. My family has been watching the A&E production of Horatio Hornblower, based on the novels by C.S. Forester. In an episode we recently watched, Hornblower says something to the effect that loyalty is better earned than demanded. I think that’s more or less what you’re saying.

  2. Just a couple days ago I was reading the reviews of Her Hand in Marriage on Amazon, and the negative ones were sad and amusing because their authors were freaking out in response to a scenario the book simply doesn’t promote: springing courtship principles on a kid after 16 years or so of neglect and poor parenting. The real problem most people have with courtship principles is that the young ones can’t imagine either being loved that much, and for the older ones can’t imagine being that loving.

    This is a great word picture, and I can see how this principle could be extrapolated to lots of other relationships, too: A husband will value the counsel of a loving, supportive wife, but the same counsel from a shrewish wife will come across as just one more bit of nagging. A pastor or elder who has been kind and encouraging all along will be much more effective at dealing with an erring congregant’s sin than one who hasn’t previously invested himself in being a loving shepherd. The difference between a rebuke from a friend and criticism from a busybody often isn’t the content of their words, but whether one has invested enough capital in the real estate of the other’s life to qualify as a joint owner whose home improvement contributions are going to be valued, or just appear to be a trespasser whose vandalism will be resented.

  3. I’ve heard this illustration of Mr Wilson’s before and I appreciate the reminder. Previously I had thought about it in context of my father and I; now I get to think about it in context of my sons and I.

  4. That’s a great analogy and a good reminder (especially for those days when I’ve a messy house and a clingy toddler). It really puts things into perspective for me. Thanks!

  5. Natalie, I guess you always have to keep Short accounts, eh? 😉

    I know what you mean about lessons like this clarifying past relationships. I think it’s a sign of good teaching that, unlike some of the psychobabble I used to read, a lesson like this clarifies without provoking me to bitterness. It spurs me on to love others better rather than giving me an excuse to pity myself because I wasn’t loved well enough. Amazing how much pleasanter things are this way!

  6. Oh, boy! On with the Short jokes! Did I ever mention that my brother in law is 6’8″? Seriously, not one of the men is under 6’1″. Still think God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

    Anyway, I completely agree with your statement above. I also find it helpful to think about things as a progression. My parents outdid their own parents in love and encouragement, and God willing my husband and I will go beyond our parents and so on and so forth till Christ returns.

  7. This is wonderful. I remember reading something else that your husband wrote about gaining children’s loyalty being the key. I love the way that you two write, and I am always spurred on by it!

  8. Natalie, it’s out of my system now. I promise to restrain myself in future. If I fail, you can always come back with the ever popular, “Val-er-ie, Val-er-a, Val-er-ie, Val-er-a-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha….” 😉

  9. I’ve been reflecting on this post even more throughout my day in regard to my own upbringing. And, it seems to me that my parents made a lot of deposits, but then they never cashed a check! They were too afraid of the ‘bounce effect’ to try. So, I was left to wallow in dating losers that I thought were cool. I’m not complaining, because God is sovereign and one of those losers was a good friend of my now wonderful husband.
    But, I would encourage parents not to be afraid to write that check!

  10. Nancy, I did not know you had a blog! How? I don’t know! I guess I’m in a hole. I’ve been reading Credenda and your family’s books for several years. Thank you!

    Thank you for this mental picture. I have a 3, 2, and 1 year-old, and I think this will stick and help me so much. I (sadly) feel like many days I’m just taking out and in the red with my little ones. I pray for God to give me many “deposit” opportunities as I take care of them and love them daily.

    I’ll be back often!

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