As I am writing this interview series (Lighthouses, Part I – Sam Richardson), I have been given the names of so many wonderful young men and women who live Christ centered lives.
Allison Ingram is one of those young women who although she is only a freshman in college, she’s mature beyond her years. Allison is filled with Jesus’ love and anyone who knows her will tell you how wonderful she is. She is attends the University of Alabama and grew up in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her mom, dad and brother Wayne. She is majoring in journalism and marketing with a minor in history. Allison is spending her summer at camp as a counselor, but took some time to answer a few of my questions.
Meet Allison Ingram and Enjoy!
I wanted to interview you for this piece because you are an outstanding role model for young adults, who is the biggest role model in your life?
Personally, I see both my parents as role models, and I’m not just saying that because this is a parenting blog. They’ve given me an excellent example of how responsible, mature and Christ-centered adults act, and I can never thank them enough for that. Also my cousin, Lindsey, is living proof of what one can achieve when they choose to follow Christ above all. Between two jobs and seminary, she still finds time to mentor teens and look after the families she babysits. I truly marvel at her time management skills and her keen ability to take time for others, whether it’s bringing lunch to school or sending an encouraging note or just helping with homework. She’s taught me an excellent lesson on the value of selflessly loving others from the little things.
Tell me a little bit about your parents, and your relationship with them.
I was very blessed with two parents who are both involved in my life but in an easygoing and relaxed manner. I can’t tell you a sporting event or school function they ever missed, and whatever activity I was into growing up, they were right behind me ready to sign up for extra lessons or carpool duty. I’m very close with both of them, but now that I’m in college, I don’t rely on their help for everything. Our relationship has shifted from the “child” phase and unto the “adult” phase, meaning that if I don’t call them three times a day, they aren’t concerned. It’s similar to a right of passage; they trust that they’ve raised me right, so they begin to resemble more of a friend rather than just a provider or rule giver.
If you could choose three words to describe your parents’ parenting style what would they be and why?
Trusting, open, and decisive. I felt secure that my parents had a strong relationship with each other and were on the same page for family decisions. Their policy growing up was that we had freedom and their trust until we broke it. Little slip-ups, like failing a test or breaking a curfew, were seen as mistakes that required improvement, but my brother and I never had a “big” error in judgment. For instance, I hate to think about what they would have done if they ever found out that we cheated on a school assignment or snuck out because that bridge of trust would have instantly snapped, leaving us rendered freedom-less and our relationship with them strained.
I think they were so open and receptive to my brother and I because they knew our lives. The after school routines of bible studies, practices and group homework sessions were regular, so they always knew where we were. Also, our back door was constantly open, allowing a steady influx of friends flowing through our house at all hours. On a typical weeknight, we would usually add an extra seat at the dinner table, and weekends meant our playroom would be filled to brim with teenagers. The point of this was to ensure they knew the people we surrounded ourselves with, and if they had a problem with any of them, it was made clear to my brother and I. Likewise, they praised the friends they saw as good influences and encouraged those relationships energetically. My parents treated my friends like they were apart of the family and worked hard to ensure that everyone felt safe and comfortable in our home. It also helped that they always were up to date with what was going on at school, from football games to musicals to fundraisers, so they found common ground with everyone who walked in.
Our boundaries were very clear, and they were experts at being involved without being pushy. For example, when I decided I wanted to try out for cheerleading, they drove me across town multiple times a week to go tumble, but they never forced to go practice my jumps or pressured me to do more than I could handle. I naturally picked up responsibility from this space they gave me, and it allowed me to sincerely love everything I put my time into.
Is there one lesson your parents taught you when you were younger that you know you will never forget?
When I was 12, my mom and dad opened a checking account for my brother and I to start teaching us to manage money at an early age. This meant recording our expenses in checkbooks, budgeting out each month, and thinking ahead to “big ticket items” like retreats we had to pay for or anticipated shopping trips. They understood that financial burden is one of the biggest strains on families today and wanted to demonstrate responsibility early to prevent future hardship. My brother was pretty good at their whole system, however in between shopping trips and going out to eat, I found myself frequently getting the “do you know what your balance is right now?” emails. However, they took my slip ups as mistakes, patiently taking the time to balance my checkbook with me to walk through the whole process. I’m not going to lie, a lot of the times I resented their persistence in this one area, especially when my friends didn’t have to write down every little thing they bought. But by the time I went to college, spending money and finding a balance was natural, and it turned out that my parent’s lesson saved me from a lot of stress in an already overwhelming time. Also, I saw their emphasis on responsibility and reliability in one specific area transcend into all other facets of my life, from time management to homework to planning ahead for bigger things.
What were some of your favorite activities to participate in as your grew up, or some that you still participate in now?
I loved going to church when I was growing up because I had a good base in the youth group. My whole family went to church each Sunday and presented the trip as a weekly chore to check off the list. I think that carried over to my brother and I loving youth group gatherings and community bible studies because we saw it as a time of fellowship that was both enjoyable and necessary to our routines. I was also involved at school with cheerleading, clubs and everything in between. Since I’ve gone to college, my high school commitments might have faded, but new ones came to take their place like the honors college magazine, SGA, a sorority and an internship starting this fall.
When I’m not doing the organized activities, I spend a lot of time walking or cooking, both past times I picked up in high school. Instead of throwing my money away on ice cream for the fifth day in a row with a friend, we started opting for a walk down one of the trails in my hometown as a way to hang out, and slowly it became one of my favorite things to do.
Do you think any of those activities have had a profound impact on your relationship with the Lord?
Out of everything I’ve been involved in, I would say that bible studies with small groups had the greatest impact on my relationship with Christ. Often it was a young adult who would take time out of her week to meet with a group of us, even reaching out individually to go grab ice cream or go on a walk or hit up a Zumba class. Anything that kept her involved in our lives and communicated that she actively cared about our wellbeing as well as our growth as Christians. Throughout high school, my small group was through the Donna Greene Bible Study that I went to every week with most of my friends. This move not only deepened the bond I had with those friends, but it gave us a common ground to hold each other accountable and to encourage one another. The set routine every week was highly anticipated and served as a rock through the topsy turvy years of high school.
How many times a week would you say you take time out of your day to actively spend time with the Lord?
I try to have a quiet time every day, usually starting my day just making myself be still and erase my endless “to-do” list from my mind to focus on what the Lord might be trying to say. I usually take time right before I go to bed to either read my Bible or devotional, taking extra care to journal down prayers or even simply what I was thankful for that day. My prayer language is definitely through writing everything out, and I found my journal to be my best nighttime medicine, clearing away any troublesome thought plaguing my mind before I fell asleep.
Can you think of a time when you were tempted to do something you knew was wrong but you resisted? What made you resist that temptation?
Especially in today’s world, it’s hard to stand firm on the guidelines you’ve set for yourself and your family adheres to when you face temptations at every turn. I’ve struggled with the usual things that high school and college students face, but what keeps me from yielding is the thought of who I would be letting down. Often it was those friends that passed my parents’ radar or family members who were coming down the path behind me, like my younger brother. Just the thought of what they would say, or even their disappointed face, was enough for me to say no or walk away, even when I felt like cracking under the pressure. I also reiterated to myself that I was called higher, to a higher purpose, a higher calling, a higher mission, or anything that would remind me of the person God set me out to become.
If you could give advice to young moms (that are striving to raise kids that honor God and lead their peers for good) what would you suggest?
The best thing my mom did for me was living out what she preached, whether it was avoiding gossip or waking up on Sunday to attend church with a joyful heart. Also, she never feared the “awkward.” If there was something distasteful or immoral on the TV show we were watching, she never missed an opportunity to make a point of it, no matter if I wanted to just cringe and hide or block her out. She took the time needed to enforce the lessons she was teaching me, and I think that’s what paid off most of all.
Any things theses moms should avoid or not do?
There is definitely a fine line between taking an interest in your child’s life and trying to impose your own desires on them. This can apply to any aspect of their lives, from forced play dates, after school activities or especially church events attendance. I was always so thankful and relieved that my mom wasn’t a “hover mom”, up to date in the latest news and always perched behind me, whispering directions in my ear about what she wanted me to do. She gave me room to make mistakes and didn’t impose so many regulations on my brother and I that we felt compelled to rebel against.