1 Jan 2001

Expectations about raising children

Submitted by theshovel
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… Still some of these issues I just can’t sort out-homeschooling. We feel it’s beneficial but not justifying it on biblical grounds. Dating-again not beneficial. We arrived at these things from a law and controlling mindset or fear. All parents come up with rules and try to protect their children (from themselves?). Yes, we do have to (and want to) let go of trying to control!! Yes we need to share life to him. He doesn’t want to hear about God. But I know Life in me will do that. I can’t even put into words well what I’m asking?? I’ve learned that through time God takes care of most of this questioning because the answer is Christ (and He is in us.) I value your input because your words are words of Life and I’m sick of words of condemnation or more laws or things we need to do-like you need to get back your son’s heart-here’s the way to turn the heart of a rebel (actually the name of a tape someone gave us.) Your writings, pointing us to the Life in us have been so refreshing and a light in the dark-THANKS AGAIN. Debbie

Hello Debbie!!

Wow, it’s great to hear such a living expression of Christ through your words!! I thank you for taking the time to write and share part of your story.

Raising children is definitely not what I had expected it to be. That’s a little bit of an understatement, huh? Many times over the years while in the midst of troubles with the girls I have looked at my wife and in my best church voice said, “Children are a blessing from the Lord.” Every so often it would produce a little humor … other times I just got a cold glare! Haha!

Before our first daughter was born I remember getting into an argument with an older couple as I described how we were going to raise our children. They laughed at my boastfulness, I mean, my godly confidence that we would produce obedient, loving children. After all, these folks were Christian in name only … what would THEY know? I was the true believer, and I knew God would be faithful to His written word. I chalked it all up as an attack against my supposed godly stand to raise children according to God’s desires. They were probably only trying to defend themselves against the insinuation from this young self-righteous punk that they had been bad parents. My, my, how experience changes perception, huh?

We home-schooled our 3 girls and only put the youngest in public school after she had been in a few drug-treatment programs (not that she stayed there for long). We were loosely associated with a home-school group of adults in the area … we were some of the pioneers around here. Of course, our families thought we were nuts. We didn’t follow any heavy programs, but I let my wife handle most of the official stuff. We took our girls everywhere, and knew they were doing most of their learning through what we all experienced together. Our oldest daughter found herself most comfortable hanging around our friends and was able to communicate on that level. Many of our friends were amazed how well they could carry on a conversation with a pre-teen (anywhere from 6 on up). Our middle girl was very quiet as a child (though she is much more vocal now) and was always my biggest helper, and she is a lot like me.

Raising kids is just too stinking messy, you know what I mean? I’ve also noticed that in being so much a part of their lives that you are so much more aware of what they do and how they think. And because of how God’s grace was tearing down our own self-righteousness, while the rest of my family had been claiming how well their kids were doing we would honestly share many of our troubles … to my mother’s sheer horror!! She would have been much happier had we simply hid our problems like the others did.

You know, even though I lost the earlier false-confidence as to how well-adjusted our kids would become … I still figured that our experience in the grace of God would somehow bring about different results. Now, the truth is that my girls have been incredibly impacted over the years because of the freedom of Christ we have grown in … but it just doesn’t do what you might expect it to do. I mean, all three of our girls have told us repeatedly that we are the most wonderful parents they can imagine, but it was only after being told for years that we were the absolute worst!

We currently have the two oldest daughters living with us — along with one child each. The oldest has been married and divorced twice, while the middle had been engaged but never married. The youngest is renting a room in a friend’s house. If I was still expecting that former hoped-for perfection I think I could have easily packed it up and took off. As it is, even though there is much conflict and turmoil brewing in our crowded house, my wife and I love the fact that they are all around.

You wonder whether your son has rejected you or God … and you know, I’ve often wondered if maybe our kids were mostly rejecting themselves in the process of rejecting God or us. I can tell you this much based upon what my girls have shared with me: they are confused and often don’t know what the heck they are doing or saying.

My oldest daughter pretty much tells us everything, and she remembers having been rather nasty to Sherri and me in her teen years, and she had to admit that she couldn’t even remember why she thought what she thought and said what she said. She said, “I had to be insane.” I first discovered what it was to be totally crushed as a father with her from the hurtful things she said and did. One evening she hurt me so bad that I went to my bedroom and simply broke down, sobbing uncontrollably in the dark. During this time she opened the door I heard her say, “Daddy …?” When she heard me crying she immediately closed the door and left. I had wished that I could have stopped crying so that she wouldn’t think her daddy was so weak … but it turns out that my weakness has only deepened her love and respect toward me.

The youngest also told us how much she hated the way she treated us. A few years ago she said that even while she was saying hurtful and abusive things to us that she knew they weren’t true. She used to often tell us how much she hated us — and hated God — but that she knew she didn’t mean it even as she said it. She was hating herself.

Your son may say lots of negative things in your direction, but most of it is from his own confusion. There is no doubt that he has seen this great struggle you and your husband are going through and I would imagine that he is testing to see whether it is really for real. He’s already sick of the religious programming he been through — and those heavy expectations upon him — so that he’s at the point where he wants to shoot first and ask questions later.

If we had to do it all over again we would still home-school our children … to a certain age, that is. Haha! It had been too hard on my wife to keep it all going, especially because of her poor health (she had/has “Chronic Fatigue” and it took a terrible toll on her during those years). There was just a time when it became not beneficial — and we knew it — but for a few reasons felt trapped. There is a lot of trash that’s being pushed on children in the public, and private, school system that makes home-schooling beneficial, though like you suspect, it doesn’t have to be Biblically justified.

You know, just the simple foundation by which children can learn to think for themselves (and we raised three stubborn kids, I can tell you) is the most beneficial aspect. For them to learn what we believe is seen very clearly in how we live and react — and definitely what we say — in real life. Religion would have us fake it till we make it, but that only reinforces the same religious spirit common to all. While it may be wise to temper how we say what we say, it is fruitless to think we can hide the truth from our kids. Religious behavior only gives the illusion of relation, but Christ is relation. Be real with your kids and let them know that it is okay for them to question you and your beliefs. As they see that you truly value life above a formulated belief system it will no doubt impact them. Though how it all turns out … we can’t know. Heck, even after it happens we’re often not sure what it is that has really happened.

Looking forward to hearing more from you!

Jim

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Random Shovelquote: Inner Objections (view all shovelquotes)

I say, listen to those objections you hear within yourself and let the lies fall away under the light of Christ.   source