Our son Peter was blessed to marry Kendra Crosby on April 13.

Kendra and Peter are Sandy High School grads, and both are out in the world doing good stuff. It was a great day that started with 2 inches of snow, but was sunny and clear by wedding time.

My wife, Hollis, and I are newbies at marrying off our kids. For us it is “one down” and a bunch to go. For those who are veterans at this process you could probably record much wisdom with all that you have learned from the process.

Here are some things I learned.

DAVE WENZELOf all that went into that day, the thing that spoke the loudest was the love of those present. Friends that they have cultivated (without even being conscious of doing so most of the time) gathered from all over the country to be there that day to support them. These friends have become family to them; having traveled many miles to be present, because, well, families stick together.

And friends of family (many friends of parents) came to support the parents and to rejoice with them in the new love of their children.

Love conquered the day. (Chessy, I know, but true).

Second, passing the torch is tough.

This is a poignant day for parents. We are aging; they are full of youth. We feel fatigued; they are full of vigor. We are becoming less; they are becoming more.

If my life is a 24 hour day (and if I am lucky enough to live as long as my farming ancestors), it is about 6 p.m. in the evening of my life. I am really hoping for a good evening and that I get to stay up late.

Next, families are imperfect.

Weddings bring out all kinds of feelings, emotions and behaviors. They are profoundly emotionally loaded. And while we deal with all the idiosyncrasies of each other, we have the choice to let them bug us, as we roll our eyes, or we learn to get to know each other, and to love the very behaviors that might otherwise bug us.

My tendency to try and accomplish too much in too short a time becomes accentuated in the wedding week. Hollis was very patient with me.

When we are honest, and truly look in the mirror, we see that we have tendencies that might not produce stellar results at every moment.

We depend on the patience and kindness of our families to tolerate us, give us feedback, and make us better.

Last, the only way to survive our parenting years is to see the individual days as part of the larger parenting pageantry. Some days are highs, some days are lows.

The high days are great, the low days leave you shaking your head and asking questions of yourself. You can’t really live at either extreme.

Hopefully, there are enough highs to cancel out some of the lows, and then you can exist somewhere in the middle.

Families: The laboratory for maturity.

Without family who would be there to celebrate with us? Plan with us? Give us unsolicited feedback? Laugh when the mistakes are made? Cry when tragedy strikes? Be dysfunctional with?

As a dear friend has said to me many times, “Families: Aren’t they grand?”

Longtime Sandy resident Dr. Dave Wenzel is an imperfect parent, a professor of counseling and a licensed professional counselor. He works with children, individuals, families and couples. His office, River Ridge Counseling, is in Sandy. He may be reached at 503-803-0444 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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