Sunday, April 12, 2015

Don't ask me to write a book on parenting.

Back in the day, when my babes were babies and my biggest challenge was pottytraining, I was pretty confident as a mom.  I had read the books, done the research, and was going to raise up these kids correctly in the name of Jesus and watch the fruit ripen as they neared adulthood.  I had it figured out.

But there was one problem.

My kids were not robots.  They could not be programmed, no matter how babywise I was at growing them God's way.  I shepherded their hearts, I romanced their hearts, and I creatively corrected.  I prayed and trained and counseled and taught them how to share.  They are very good kids, beautiful and smart and polite to the n'th degree to any adult who crosses their paths.  They are loyal friends and funny as can be.  But God has done a massive work of humbling in this mama's heart as my kids have entered the teen years.  No matter how much I trained, sheltered, coached and homeschooled there are some massive struggles that are just going to be part of their experience.  Identity, body image, race, navigating relationships, why they are here, who they are in Christ; these are huge issues for any child but even more magnified in kids who have experienced early loss.

My kids are sinners.  So are yours.  They are enticed by the world and resisting the influence of this almost godless culture is extremely difficult.  The generation that is now in the teen years could be the most narcissistic generation in history.  Just think about it.  I can prove that point in one word.

#selfies

Need I say more?

Our teenagers are barraged almost constantly by tiny images playing across tiny screens, telling them to pose just so, make life look fun and perfect, and the more "likes" you get the more popular you must be.  We have never had a generation like the one coming behind us and, frankly, WE HAVE NO FRIGGIN' IDEA WHAT WE ARE DOING.

The parenting books don't deal with this.  Even the ones that mention it are only working out of theory because WE DON'T KNOW the long-term effect that the social media culture is going to have on our kids as they become adults.  We just don't know.

My kids have firm boundaries around their phone/internet use.  As they get older we plan to gradually loosen those boundaries in order for them to develop their own sense of discernment regarding social media.  (Don't think I haven't considered going Amish just to avoid the whole modern technology thing.  Thankfully my hubby's love of cable TV sports nipped that idea in the bud!)  But the fact is, after all of this research and i-blood, i-sweat, and i-tears my kids could hit 18, say "see ya'" and be out the door and on the first porn site they can get their hands on.

That, my internet friends, scares the crap out of me.

I don't have an answer.  I can't guarantee anything we are doing in our home is going to work and that they will turn out ok.  And neither can you.  We are treading in unknown territory and it is driving me to my knees on a whole new level.  Not only do I pray for purity in the lives of my children, I pray for their protection against online predators, for them to have a desire for the things of God and a complete aversion to the things of the world.  I continue to set firm boundaries and enforce a sense of propriety in how they contact friends and members of the opposite sex.  But I have also had to step back and shut my preachy mouth because, the truth is, only God can make them want what is right.

"For it is God who works in you, to will and to act according to His good purpose."  Phil. 2:13

Do I believe this?  That He will work in my children, that He will make them want what He wants and get true satisfaction from obedience to Him?  I have to.  It is my only hope as I raise my children in this crooked and depraved generation.  I admit I have read lots of parenting books.  I am a researcher by nature, but I have learned to pick and choose what seems right for my family at the time and not buy in to the latest philosophy or parenting fad.  No matter how many key phrases I have memorized and ready to apply in the teachable moments, only God can speak to the deepest places in the hearts of my children. Sometimes the best thing I can do is get out of His way and, though it may be painful to watch, let Him do the hard heart-work that needs to be done in order to refine my kids and make them more like Christ just like He did when I was a teen and young adult.  I imagine my mama could blame me for a few of her gray hairs (though I'm sure MOST of them were from my brother!) but she never preached or lost it when we screwed up.  I imagine she spent many hours on her knees for us.

I can do no less for my children.

This parenting season is HARD, much harder than I ever imagined.  I feel the clock ticking on their years at home and the pressure to do it right and well can be overwhelming.  I want them to love me, to come home often for holidays and weekends when they are in college, to look back on their childhood with sweet feelings of love and acceptance, to know that they are the five greatest gifts I have ever been given and that their father and I have got their back no matter what.  But I also don't want to parent out of fear, which is a struggle for me.  Despite the ticking clock, I have to live for today and for eternity.  I have to honor God above all.  Only He can woo their hearts and make them want what only He can offer.

But don't think I won't snatch that phone out of their hot little hands when necessary!   What in the world did our parents take away when we smarted off...our Ataris?  Good grief.