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Parenting With The Ghosts Of Times Past

If you have enjoyed the blessing of good parents, you probably have a collection of favorite memories you can bring to mind at a moment's notice. In my case, some of those memories include historic homes with empty corridors, long shadows and echoes of the past.

You see, I have always been drawn magnetically to a good ghost story. I grew up on the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series by Alvin Schwartz and the "Goosebumps" series by R.L. Stine. My dad purposefully chose allegedly haunted locations for family stays and tours -- among them, Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and the Whaley House in San Diego, Calif. Once during a summer back in Colorado from college, my mom scheduled a special tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes park. We were the only ones on the tour.

It's OK if this sounds completely weird to you. It made complete sense to me. My parents knew what interested me and, rather than shying away from a young man's seemingly bizarre fascination with the paranormal, they nurtured it within reason. They weren't encouraging me to engage in witchcraft or the dark arts. They simply fed my curiosity, my love of reading and my quest for the kind of shiver best served ice cold.

So I particularly relished the opportunity to ask my oldest son Micah to join me on a ghost tour of Pythian Castle in Springfield, Mo., this weekend. He sat patiently through the introductory video explaining the building's history as the home of a fraternal order and of World War II veterans in the early part of the last century. He asked plenty of questions and we talked about the stories people tell and what the Bible tells us about where we go when we die.

It didn't take much for us to bond over a few spooky stories and a few empty corridors. I don't know whether Micah will share my love for the creepy as he grows older. All that matters to me are the words he repeated as we prepared to leave: "This was fun."

Not so much the experience itself as much as the fact that we spent it together. Look for opportunities to show your children how special they are as individuals. The rewards are subtle yet immense.

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