Monday, December 12, 2011

Integrated Parenting 101

We have friends who are constantly commenting on their children's spiritual acumen; their profound prayers, their prophetic words. I've been a parent long enough to know that developmentally kids under the age of 7 are oft fond of mimicking their parents. It's not that I disbelieve that their children are spiritual powerhouses, it's just that, really, in the grand scheme of things, little children and their parents have not been tried and tested, have not weathered the storms of puberty, have not suffered mentored kids who want to argue for the sake of it, or really gone through enough as parents to do much more than dote on their kid. And really, the kids haven't gone through much either. If these kids weren't exposed to this stuff, would they come up with it on their own? In many ways, they are merely repeating what they've been taught, are seeking the praise and approval of their parents (This sounds cynical, I know. I'm all about capitalizing on a kids desire to parrot and please. I brag about the results myself. I just don't think we should count it as something it's not).

At the same time these parents are exposing their kids to lots of spiritual stuff, they take them to day care full time, drop them off at public school and pick them up from after-care. I know the day care and I know the school system. They are both "good." Good in the sense that they teach the kids academic stuff and there is very little change of bodily harm. But I see the parents actions as dichotomous. The thing that does not make sense to me is that this Christian family- and many like it- believe that they can train their kids in a certain context for a small amount of time a week, and at the same time their kids intellect, bodies and hearts are being trained in a totally different and dare I say it, adverse context, for hours and hours and hours a week and they believe that their heart training will win out. Schools are not Christian, (though I will assert they are religious, but that's a different discussion altogether) and offer paradigms and beliefs that vie for a child's heart and mind. Can a person so divorce themselves that their heart be trained in one belief system, their intellect in another and they not have to make a choice between the two?

The reality is that only 4% of   kids raised in Christian homes these day, keep the faith; keep the faith in a way that is decidedly and markedly Christian; keep the faith in a way that has the appearance, rather than just the words of a moral code. Somewhere along the line, the training isn't taking, or it's falling away, or it's being snuffed out by something more alluring and appealing to the kids. Somewhere along the way, many kids believe that Christianity is "almost christian" and that "almost" is just as good. Heart felt community is lacking in the American Church. True community is lacking outside of it, but at least their is some semblance of belonging in other quarters. Intellectual training- study as worship- is a foreign concept both inside and outside the church, and "good "Christian schools often substitute legalism for education that stirs the soul and calls men and woman to do courageous things for God.

The reality is that if we want to "reach" our kids; reach their hearts and minds, and imprint something on both that is permanent and true, we must live radically, we must live in a way that is different. It's a lonely road to homeschool. It's a lonely road to be a homeschooler. I hear this from not only my older adult kids, but from thier friends. Living so radically away from the norm makes them different in profound ways.  Good, Godly ways, but ways that ostracize them from the average, the norm. And, honestly, homeschooling is not the only way to tackle this arduous task, but in some ways, as my friend Jennifer says, it's the easiest (and that too, is a whole 'nuther essay). People who don't live intentionally with a thought and care to train the hearts and minds of their children, who don't understand the profound influences that will clamour and shout for their children's hearts and minds, are naive, at best.

I was served by a beautiful young woman in Starbucks last week with a tattoo emblazoned across her collarbone in calligraphy. It said, "Self Preservation." I've thought about that a lot this week. Because I don't endeavor to give my kids the tools of self-preservation. If anything I want them to see their desperate need for SomeOne bigger, mightier and infinitely more dangerous, wild and free than they can ever be. I want them dependent on the Living God, and ready, willing and able to go and do and be whatever He is calling them to.

I can't do that for them, but I can empower them to have hearts and minds open to it, uncluttered by what the world has to offer their hearts, minds and bodies.



Janet Rose said...


Lillian said...

I think we have to be careful about sitting in judgment of parents who send their children to public school and day-care/after school care. I don't know your friends or their financial situation, but not everyone can afford the luxury of being SAHM. I had the advantage at one point to finally work from home and was then able to home school my daughter.

I am a product of public schools. Most of the youth leaders and pastors I know are products of public schools. It is possible to survive public school and come out Christian on the other end. Even in today's world. It is even possible to survive secular colleges and come out Christian.

To be honest, in my little corner of the world, there are many home schooled adults, who were raised in Christian homes. They were taught Christian mores, etc. However, today they have willfully walked away from the things of God.

I did not home school Lydia because of the secularism of school. I did not home school Lydia because she needed more of a Christian, Godly education. I fought hard against the secularism she was facing daily. I taught her why they were wrong. I did that while she was in public school. The reason I home schooled Lydia is that middle school was letting her down and in fact holding her back in her education. There was no way she would enter high school prepared for it, let alone be prepared for college. The fact that I could teach her more closely, the things of God was an added blessing. However, it was not my sole purpose or even my top three.

Teaching her about the things of God was a given. I was already doing that.

Christian schools and colleges can and have turned so many of our college students away from the Lord. Why? Because of judgmental attitudes, because of hypocrisy coming from professor's who say one thing and do another and because of double standards. We have to send our children into the world, even the Christian world prepared. They have to own what they believe or they can be persuaded to walk away for a myriad of reasons.

As to your friends commenting on their child's spiritual acumen, profound prayers, etc. Remember scripture says, "a child shall lead them" (yes I know it is specifically speaking of Christ, but it is also appropriate to say that our children will lead us back to the throne of grace). Scripture is clear that to belong to the Kingdom we have to approach the King as a child. I don't think that a child or adult for that matter, has to be proven in battle before they can be used by God in prophesy or profound prayers. I would, however, caution the parents against being overtly, publicly putting their children center stage, because they put a target on their child's back. The enemy will target them especially. It is what he does. I have seen it many times.

Sorry for the blog length response. And I hope I didn't offend you. I always appreciate what you have to say.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Wow. So much in this post! I'm afraid I fail so much to be my kids' mentor/spiritual role model, that TRULY my only hope is to offer them Jesus. I love that last paragraph!

LaughingLioness said...

Lillian- we are agreeing ; ). I'm not saying it's impossible to raise a Godly child in the public school system or a given that one will turn out from homeschool- God knows I've seen the inverse of both time and again! My point is that we must be diligent, and walk humbly, training our kids as integrated wholes, not parts.

Thanks for the comments, gals! It's always good to get feedback!!

The Benson Family said...

I remember talking to a stay at home mom who was lamenting the fact that her 1st grader was learning very explicit sexual terms on the bus coming home. I told her "homeschool her!". She said, "But she's learning spanish there. I could never teach her spanish."

I've seen homeschoolers who have very secular thinking children and public school students who have a strong faith. The ones that come out of the public schools with a strong faith have had parents who work HARD at it. One mom volunteers almost daily in her children's school, knows the teachers - which ones will teach evolution etc, and has yearly summer boot camps for her girls where they teach worldview. Knowing her, I believe it is easier to homeschool because I don't have to undo faulty thinking and just teach the truth the first time through.

Redradtech said...

Well as one who has done both I can say for sure, there are no for sures. The ones I home schooled the most have been the worst. What can I say?

Jacqui said...

Read your blog post from the Carnival of Homeschooling. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing authentically and openly.