Raising Children-God’s Way

How hard can that be?

Today I read an a post on parenting. New parents, Christian parents, never get tired of reading the secrets to success in parenting, it seems. Forgive me if I am tired of it. Forgive me if I seem short and cranky when I write about this. I don’t mean to rant, but I have been parenting for 30 some solid years now. I have been through the wringer, because I have tried very hard to follow the advice and I have had to hold fast in some very difficult storms. Storms that threatened to shipwreck our home, at times.

And placebo advice can make me feel grief that is difficult to restrain and redirect. Because all those well meaning voices truly..mean well. But I decided to tell you all the truth. Real, Godly parenting is both extremely simple and extremely hard. It is just plain hard, and you cannot guarantee either your outcomes or your pathway. You are going to have to come to grips that only God can do that- and some families seem to have more grace than others, although I think we can rely upon God to give more when that is called for.

The Simple:
You have to parent daily.
You have to build bridges of communication.
You have to put yourself aside and put your child’s needs forefront.
You need as much consistancy as you can possibly muster.

The Hard:
There is no one method.
You are human.
You have no final control over the circumstances of life, only over yourself( and that is more than most of us can handle).

The hard means there are influences other than yourself that will factor into your childs life. Not all of those influences are healthy or helpful. You are coming into this with influences and factors of your own, in personality and upbringing. Society is not sympathetic to you, and no one will give you a break, parenting has become an unthankful job.

The simple means that there are things that work. It means that children are flexible and forgiving, and they love you and will respond to what you put into them, beyond what you might expect. The simple does not mean that these are easy things to do, but that they don’t take lots of training or even wisdom to accomplish. They just are time-tested ways that parenting works.

God’s Way in parenting means you pray alot. That is what following God’s way in anything will entail- lots of people get parenting quite well- they have things built into them, or they work hard at building relationships, but if you are going to parent as a Christian it is as simple and as hard as the rest of your relationship with Him. I wish that I had listened more fully to God and less so to the well-meaning teachers and experts. I wish I had had less well meaning interventionists in the Church- who second guessed all my parenting, and more loving rebukes, like some of my friends gave me, that were along the lines of common sense.

We still have the whitewashing of sepulchres as the approved methodology of the Church. Shame on us for that. If we did more to support and love the young mothers and fathers and children of the Church- that would go much farther to producing godliness amongst us than tens of thousands of programs, seminars, and well advertised books.

But we dont. That would just be too simple, and doesn’t swell the coffers near as much…doesn’t make for great statistics,either; although it could go a long way to reduce those shameful other sorts of statistics that the Church now wants to explain away…divorce, pornography use, and all the other stuff that lonely broken people are helpless to resist.

So forgive me if I have tears when you are wringing your hands over how horrible the world is and how much you want to tsk-tsk and herd together.

Be willing, instead, to keep communication open when it is so very, very hard, because all your standards have been tossed aside, and you are forced to see the damage and hurt that you wanted to protect that child from come to pass. Keep open and cry and pray all night because you can’t sleep. Understand that all the teaching in the world is only in hope of a open ear. And sometimes it will take time to create that between you and your child. Understand that there are strong lies in our society, and you will not win the battle against all of them. But keep trying. Keep the faith, so your child will have somewhere to return if the decision to go the Prodigal’s way is chosen.

Keep the fires burning and keep the door unlatched. Love them.

That is all I can tell you. And I am sorry that I cannot applaud your methods and your exteme enthusiasm. Because I know it’s endurance that wins the day in this thing… and that we are quite weak in our ability to walk in humility and love. But I hope the best for us all… it is the highest of callings to raise the generation that will continue after we have all gone. It is worth the sacrifices and the investment.

Invest more in the child than in the method. It pays a far better return.

A Day In The Life… of a parent

I was going to post on culture, I want to post on culture, but the soap opera angst of being a parent wins over. Why does Bill Murray’s Ground Hog Day seem like real life to me? Maybe because my husband and I keep hitting the same old road bumps.

This is especially true of our parenting journey even though we have vastly changed many things. We are loose, less demanding, we listen more and criticise less…. but does this get us the home pass free? No.

My husband, dipping into a now well berated woe-is-me why do we go through this mode, got some things to truly feel woeful about after I “explained” why I feel like I’m the only adult in the house. Although, he was good about it and explained back why that wasn’t so…. and I did end up giving him good advice which I intend to take myself: instead of concentrating on what you’d like not to be as a person, why not concentrate on the person you’d like to be? That way your actions and intentions are more likely to accomplish something. There’s something about the backward look that can be less than educational when it comes to making the positive changes. It doesn’t seem that is the way it works, but it does.

Must have something to do with what we fill our minds with….

Anyway. Parenting. All of our older set of children felt we were too restrictive. Fair enough. So on our younger set we have been both more lenient and encourage the usual social activities.

We have chauffered and made accomodations for numerous teen activities for numerous teens… no problem right? Right. So long as we always say yes. But today we said one no, and the whole teen contingent went slightly …um… emotive. Except the one who gets to go on said outing. We said no to one child , who at 13 seems young enough that there will be other opportunities, and we felt ( we felt, but I was handed the message decision “Go ask your Mom”) that maybe she should slow down some of the social schedule. At least for this one social event.

Tears, talks, my husband going very cave-like in that miserable state that men enter . I explained in my unrepentant self that you weigh things, you make the decision, you take the fall out, that is what mature responsible people do. You can’t please everyone. Very hard for my husband who wants to buy that book “Approval Addiction : Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone”. I tried to get him to buy it couple weeks ago “Oh, there it is, why don’t you buy it now, isn’t that the book you were talking about” “Yeh, later, I have too many things to do, I won’t have time to read it” . Well, now he’s mentioned that he needs to read it.

I don’t know. I don’t think understanding this personality situation takes away the pain. And it is painful to have to say no and get the responses that no oftentimes brings.

With raising teens, it is hard to know just what works for the longterm goal. The Mature Responsible Person. The person who can make their own happiness and come through dependably for those dependent on them. Those kind.

Like we try to be , but often fail at exemplifying.

Sometimes I, the one who usually has had strong opinions and convicitons on just about anything…gets throughly confused. I mean, sometimes I just want to say, “I don’t know anymore, leave me alone”. But I just go ahead with the information at hand, and do what seems to be best. What else can you do? You pray, you want the best, you’ve gone to the parenting seminars, and read the Bible studies. You absorbed who knows how many parenting articles in any number of Ladies Magazines. Talked with parents who have been there and those in the middle of….. but all is not clarity and light.

Talking and tears is what it is. I’d cross my fingers at this point if I thought it would help. But instead we just tread on through, hoping we hit the higher ground.

[And those experts who are so very sure that everything works out if you just do this and just do that? That give the Bible 1,2, 3’s on how to raise the perfect person? I have my doubts about them…. I have my real strong cynical and sceptical doubts….]

And the husband who looked like he wanted to bang his head on the wall? Do almost anything to just make the pain stop? He did probably the most useful thing of all: the private, sympathetic, Dad talk.

Whew…. good thing for Dad’s. Dads can be the best fixers, best shoulders to lean on, best lots of things I can’t think to name. We each have our place in this moving experiment called “family”. Ever changing ever challenging…ever humbling.

And tomorrow is another day.