Just so you know, I'm not the child who will criticize her own parents. Though, over the years I've seen many a disgruntled child lay waste to their parents over the way they were raised (their parents were mean, they didn't give them enough money, they didn't let them go enough places or provide for them the way they wanted), that won't be me.
Oh, I had a number of issues with my parents growing up, but I was a PAIN IN THE BACK SIDE of them both! I mean, I was truly an unruly kid by the time I hit middle school and I gave my folks fits and embarrassments. My perceptions of my upbringing will never match those of my parents - they can't. I didn't have the worldview as a child to understand their journey as adults. I only understood my own. Like most kids, it truly wasn't until I had my own children that I realized the inherent truth of all those, "You'll understand why I'm doing this when you have kids of your own" speeches.
Today, while I don't quarterback my parent's parenting, I did learn several lessons from their parenting style that I have used to fashion my own. One of those I want to share today.
I was born in 1962. Then, parents didn't sit down and have deep conversations with their kids over politics or religion. In fact, the phrase, "Children should be seen and not heard" was brought up - on a regular basis - during conversations I was meant to hear. This isn't horrifying, it's just the way things were. Truth be known, I think it healthier than the helicopter parenting of today where kids are granted rock star status in their own homes. Nevertheless, communication among parents and children back then basically consisted of a variation on the theme of,
Parent: "How was your day?"This, it turns out, was a real problem for me - particularly in the area of religion and human relations. My parents never had the dreaded "sex" talk with me, so I picked up what I could through the grapevine and a series of encounters one might consider a form of "on the job training". Of course, this was not optimum and I am much, MUCH, more open with my children about dating, relationships and sex, than my parents ever would have thought to be. Our church youth leaders even provided a program (Created For Purity) outlining proper dating rituals for Christian young men and women that really helped spark needed conversation on the topic. I highly recommend it.
Child: "See you later."
At any rate, the lack of religious discussion in my house was also a real issue. Yes, we went to church - every Sunday and sometimes Sunday night or Wednesday night, depending upon the church programming available where we were attending at the time. My family did not, however, do any kind of Bible study together, or pray much outside the box of "Thank you for the world so sweet...", Neither did we discuss the meaning or underpinnings of our Christian faith.
So, let's add this up:
- I had 2 hours on Sunday morning at Sunday School and church, and an hour's program on Wednesday night. That's maybe four hours per week of time in church to develop my faith.
- I spent 30 hours a day - maybe - from 4 to 10pm at home with my folks.
- In contrast, I spent 30 hours a week at school (120 hours a month, 10 months out of the year).
I attended public school all my life. The year I was born, the Bible was effectively removed from public schools through the court case Engel v. Vitale. Though schools weren't hostile to religion during my formative years, I wasn't going to get religious training there - that wasn't their purpose. I might learn about morals and ethics, but I wouldn't get the instruction necessary to defend my Christian faith.
Today, most public schools have openly adopted the concept of secular humanism (who cares about life, we're all only descendants of apes with no one to please but ourselves).
This is an important thought.
If I was raised in an era where everyone I knew (and my family) went to church regularly, public schools had no real sex education programs and secular humanism had not yet become their modus operandi, yet I STILL managed to move through various (and long) stages of atheism and agnosticism, how in the world could a child navigate today's public school system and still come out with a Christian worldview - especially if there isn't some kind of Biblical training going on in the home on a daily basis?
This is an important question.
If you are a Christian and your child goes to a public school where they spend at least as much time as they do in your own home, how do you know your child isn't succumbing to their version of faith - secular humanism?
If you are a practicing Christian with a Christian world view, this is a question you simply must answer. If you can't answer this question with clarity, here are some further questions to consider:
- Do you talk to your children about your beliefs and values on a regular basis?
- Do your children understand the tenets of your faith and can they explain those to others?
- Do you talk to your kids around the kitchen table, or in the car, or before bed, about what they believe and why?
- Do you pray a rote/memorized prayer, or have you taught your children to use their own words to invoke the blessing of the Lord for their family, friends and the needy?
- Do you have a list of issues and people for which your children and family pray consistently?
- Do you stop what you are doing and ask your children to tell you specifically what has happened at school when they arrive home?
- Do you look at their homework, books and papers to see what it is they are being taught in school?
Several years ago, before I took my kids out of public school to school at home, I wrote a blog, "The Zombies Are Coming, The Zombies Are Coming!" Here is an excerpt from that blog where I forbade my daughter from completing and turning in a worksheet (ie; piece of propaganda) about global warming:
Me: "I forbid you to do that and turn it in! It's a lie. You're perpetuating a lie!"As adults, we often forget to even consider how effected by peer pressure and the desire to please their teachers our kids are. In fact, I've heard a number of Christian parents tell me they believe it's their calling to leave their children in public school to evangelize those around them. This is a problematic thought process in several ways:
Betty: "But MOOOOOOOOOM, You're the ONLY parent who ever gets upset at this kind of thing! You're embarrassing me!"
Me: "It's about more than being embarrassed child, it's about doing something that promotes "junk science" - science that isn't true and hasn't been proven!"
Betty: "But I don't care! I don't want to get a bad grade for NOT doing it and my teacher will be mad!"
- Peer pressure is excessive today and bullying is rampant in public schools. Kids today are often bullied for their faith - among other issues.
- Social media can also provide an environment unfriendly to the Christian worldview.
- During the difficult middle and early high school years, if kids aren't rock solid in their Christian worldview, the views of their non-Christian teachers/friends can supplant them with ease you might never have considered.
Though I would personally like to see every Christian withdraw their children from public school and educate them at home or in a private Christian school, I know many can't. so I'll leave you with these last several thoughts:
When flying, the stewardess will ALWAYS instruct you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting your child with theirs. Take the time to make sure you are rock solid in your own faith in order to lead your children with strength. If you feel wobbly, try these resources by Josh McDowell, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" and/or "More Than A Carpenter". Also, Frank Turek's, "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" is excellent. "Cold Case Christianity; A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Bible" by J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel is another excellent read.
Do your best to find a church where the Bible is preached and studied in its own right. Our current pastor (Paul Blair) is unbelievably knowledgeable in the Bible and our whole family has learned more from him than any of the other pastors under which we've sat over the years.
Put Ephesians 6:10-18 at the forefront of your mind and infuse these concepts into your daily life. Once YOU put on the whole Armor of God daily, put it on your children as well and send them off knowing without hesitation that nothing can turn them from their faith.