Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Parenting

Last night I spoke to the parents at our family ministry, D6.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about parenting recently (I think I'm up to 3 minutes a day). So this talk was some of the overflow of that. Maybe I need to do more thinking on parenting. It wasn't a stellar talk, as far as speeches go, and I did overstate some things. Typical.

But, one of the things that's on my heart is to help parents get beyond a "method" of parenting (We follow Tripp, or we follow Ezzo's, or we follow Priolo, or we follow Dobson...). Churches are so good at creating little legalistic subcultures (i.e. if you're not talking to your kids about the Bible and that God says what they did is wrong after you spank them, you haven't done your job OR "if two kids are fighting over a toy they are both wrong, even if one 'had it first' OR you need to breast feed in this way...). I think there are some valid points to what we learn in the parenting books, but let's take a step back and remember something...

Raising kids is making disciples. Jesus never spanked his disciples. He didn't breastfeed them. So how did he teach them?

That was the bulk of the talk. My favorite point from the speaker (every blind squirrel finds a nut) was...[drumroll]...

"Teaching moments are not always in the moment, but always in the moments."

A lot of times, our kids are not ready to have a heart to heart conversation right after they've been spanked or suffered the consequences for what they did. More of what we teach them will happen naturally in the context of doing life together- shema style- walking along the road, driving in the car, eating breakfast, going to bed, playing outside, even watching TV. Whenever life happens, we are teaching.

It's just a matter of what we're teaching.

I sensed that everyone was particularly engaged during the point that we should use the good, bad and ugly stories from our past to teach our kids. I frequently speak to youth about moral purity. I've already gone public with my victories and failures. I will definitely be as open as I can with my kids when that becomes a relevant discussion. I think there is a time to talk to our kids about being immoral, raped, abused, pure, whatever to help them learn and stay on the path.

Thank God for a church where there is peer pressure to be authentic.

There are some points I didn't get to...

- Each child is different, and different means of discipline will be required.
I've been talking to a college student whose dad tried to raise him like his older sibling. His older sibling was more like his dad in the things that he enjoyed, temperament, etc. Therefore, saying, "Hey, let's go out and work on the car" when your son enjoys graphic design isn't the best way to instruct. One son gets affirmed while the other gets ignored. Chuck Swindoll made a great point about Proverbs 22:5-7, "Raise up a child in the way he should go..." Each child will need to be raised differently.

- God is not your tool to raise good kids. You are God's tool.
As my friend Ed says about parents of teens, "They want their kids to have just enough Jesus to keep them off drugs." The problem is, God cares more about your kid's passion for Jesus than he does about their grades, behavior modification, and the parent's self-image. We can't treat God as a means to get good kids.

There is so much more I left out of the talk.
And so much in the talk you may want to ignore.

Either way, you can listen to it if you have some time to kill or kids to raise- just click here.


Steph said...

Mark, we were there last night and I think you did a great job of sharing what was on your heart. It's refreshing to hear that we don't have to conform to some "method" to parent correctly, but rather that we are making disciples. It is nice to hear that it is okay for everyone to be a little different, I've spent too much of my life trying to fit a mold. Lately I've just been trying to figure out how my life can show my love for Jesus. And I haven't figured it out yet. That's what it all boils down to though, right? And today, after thinking about last night's talk, my prayer has been "please just don't let me be a hindrance to them loving you, God!" That's my greatest fear. I know I can't convince them by my words, but feel like I can sure turn them away by my shortcomings and imperfections and I REALLY don't want that to happen.

Thanks to you and Leatha for always being so encouraging.
Stephanie Loveland

Laura Lynn Boettger said...

I agree, Mark; there is not one way to parent or breast-feed. Your point that Jesus didn't breast-feed his disciples is a bad argument. He might have if He was a woman. After all He did design a woman's body to lactate. :) Just kidding.

If you are going to talk culturally about Jesus and His disciples regarding breast-feeding, let's remember every one at that time was breast-feed -- if not by their mother, then by someone else lending a helping... breast.

Metropuritan Mark said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I loved your prayer. I know your kids are blessed to have you and Brian as parents.

Laura Lynn-
wow. that cracked me up!