William and Renée Shackelford on an American Cancer Society fundraising hike at Yosemite National Park.
Your Adulting and Parenting (AP) Community Host:
Let me tell you about my journey.
My life with Renée was a storybook love affair. Renée and I met in high school, and we were complete opposites. She was very outgoing and talkative, while I was very shy and introverted. Renée was a creative (relational) thinker, and I was very logical (analytical). I thrived in an orderly, organized world, while Renée was a very free spirit. How we got together is still a mystery. We both describe it as fate.
At the age of fifteen, we both knew we were going to marry – which we did five years later. Working together for 5 years to build a relationship taught us a powerful lesson about teamwork in relationships. At a very early age, we learned that we could successfully tackle tough relationship issues if we worked together. That was a life lesson that helped us greatly in our parenting.
We have three beautiful children (two girls and a boy) and ten grandchildren. Although both of us had professional careers, we took our roles as parents very seriously. The very relational Renée would think of all kinds of creative things we could do for and with our kids, and the very analytical William would develop a plan for implementing the ideas. We were the perfect example of the power of teamwork.
We soon discovered that others were taking notice of our parenting style and our family. Our close friends called us the “real-life Huxtable family,” while others would call on us for advice on how to deal with issues they were having with their young children. We were asked for our opinion on issues such as how to get their kids to go to sleep without crying, how to stop the temper tantrums, and in later years, how to cut the financial umbilical cord. We saw our parenting methods working on children other than our own and came to believe we had parenting tools and techniques worth sharing.
In the thirteenth year of our marriage, 1983, we sat down and wrote an outline for a book on parenting: 10 Steps to Successful Parenting we called it. As with many things, life happened, and the book was put on the back burner while we devoted time to our kids, our careers, and our social lives. We never got around to finishing the book.
In 2006, Renée was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Renée managed the disease and extensive treatment remarkably well, until a few months before her death in March of 2013. Months later, while organizing her papers, I ran across the book outline, and it brought an immediate smile to my face. I realized it had been thirty years since we wrote that outline. Our kids had grown up and had kids of their own, but the book was still an infant. I thought, I should complete this book, but I immediately told myself, "Now is not the time. I am grieving the loss of my beloved Renée, I need to work even harder to replace her income, I have business commitments that I must honor . . ." and the list went on and on.
It took me a full year to emerge from the grieving process and get back on my feet. At that point, my life was in shambles and I was being pulled in many directions in both my business and personal lives. I knew I needed to “downsize” my commitments, so one day I made a list of all the things I was thinking about doing. Before going to bed that evening, I prayed for direction, clarity, and focus. I was awakened at four a.m. with only one thing left on my mind: completing the book.
I realized my calling was to take all the lessons we learned as parents and grandparents, all the tricks and tools that worked consistently with our kids (and with other children with whom we were blessed to interact) and pass them on to the next generation of parents. The book was published in 2019 with a new name “Growing Into Your Parenting Role”. The Adulting and Parenting (Resort) Community was built shortly thereafter to allow us to combine our parenting “life lessons” with that of countless other parents for the betterment of the next generation of parents.
One of my favorite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) learns how his life had touched so many people in ways he was not fully aware. We want the AP Community to be the catalyst that allows you (young adults and parents) to have a more wonderful life. By so doing, you will add more joy and meaning to the lives of your partner, children, and grandchildren in ways you may never be able to fully appreciate. My “wonderful life” would not have been complete without completing the book and launching this adulting and parenting community.