The Pursuit To Regain Family Life
by Drenda Keesee
My husband, Gary, and I love to spend our days off with home popped popcorn and whatever is playing on the Turner Classic Movie channel. One night we were watching the 1961 movie Tammy Tell Me True, and a scene came where Tammy went to babysit three little boys. Every nanny the rowdy boys had ever had quit, and when Tammy enters their house, she understands why. One boy is torturing an animal while his brother smokes a cigarette on the couch. The third little boy is running around the house screaming at the top of his lungs. When Tammy asks the parents, both college professors, why they let them act like that, their response is that they believe in allowing the children to explore their curiosity without boundaries.
After the parents leave…
the boys try to sabotage Tammy into leaving. But Tammy is a strong Southern woman, and she starts enforcing order in the house, which is something the parents would detest. Once she has the boys calmed down, she begins to tell them about God. At first, they rattle on about their parents’ belief that there is no God, but as Tammy tells them Bible stories, they start to lean in and listen carefully. By the end of the night, the little boys chime, “I hope you come back. You’re the most interesting babysitter we’ve ever had.” And one of them says, “Yes, I’d love to hear some more of those religious myths. We shan’t tell our folks.”
This classic movie was making fun of the idea of a family without rules and boundaries—but that’s what the family model looks like today, and we see the outcome of that mirrored in society. Pop psychology from the Fifties and Sixties taught parents to introduce adult themes early and allow children to explore their curiosity, and we now have a generation that behaves as those children did.
Life was simpler before then. The future felt more secure and brighter than today. Marriages lasted. On Sundays, families went to church and spent the day together taking an afternoon drive or playing board games or baseball in the backyard. Families took picnics with buckets of chicken or made homemade ice cream while taking turns cranking the handle. Kids rode in cars with the windows down, stretched across the backseat on warm summer nights headed on road trip vacations. We watched TV together when there were only three stations to choose from, but it felt as though there was more worth watching.
You may be too young to remember any of this, but you’ve seen glimpses of it on TV Land reruns. There was a time when there was innocence in childhood. Marriages were expected to stay together until “death do us part.” Men were expected to lead the family, provide security, work Monday to Friday, wash the car on Saturday, and take the family to church on Sunday. Somehow there was enough money on one income! Because men stayed committed to the family, it enabled moms to prioritize raising their children and taking care of family needs over wants that forced them to work away from family. But funny, they were more fulfilled. Life was simple and good for most. Were there problems? Sure. But not nearly to the degree we see today!
What changed? What went wrong? I asked some seventy- and eighty-year-old women, and one responded, “The biggest thing is that mothers left their children to go to work. I stayed home with my children, and it was the best time of my life.” Another said, “Once my children started school, I worked a night shift, but I was home to get the kids off to school and home when they returned. They knew I was there.” One woman said, “Men were leaders then. We were happier. Life was simpler. It was a better life than the stress I see my daughter living with today.”
Women have more choices today but are statistically less happy than ever in recorded history. Could it be that the vintage values families of old possessed made the difference?
I asked women what we need to do to recapture the important things and more of what matters for our lives. Their answers . . .
“We need more Christian men in leadership.”
“Parents need to stop letting technology control their family.”
“Before it’s too late, mothers need to realize that while they can do many things, nothing is more important than their children.”
“My daughter is divorced and so self-focused. I feel sorry for my grandson. He’s never had any security. It’s selfishness.”
Is it possible to rediscover what used to make families work? Yes! Vintage is back. Retro is cool, and it works in our families, too.
First, we must learn how to simplify and focus on what really matters. Second, we must understand how to build on the right foundation, with principles that work. We must build our families on timeless truths.
Excerpt from “The New Vintage Family” by Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.