Did you enjoy last month’s series on Love? I hope that you did. This morning I stare at this screen with so many thoughts swirling in my head. I am thinking about my children and all of their needs, their dreams, and my fears.
As parents, we are tasked with such an important job. One that society is systematically minimizing. One that many parents are minimizing without realizing. Society doesn’t value the role of parent like in the past. There are so many ways for our children to go around us as parents to do the things the world is calling them to do. And, there are so many voices out there that say things like, “You don’t need your parents”. The world teaches that our children don’t need to be connected to us, and if they are, they are somehow weak, or not actually “adulting”. Society says that the things parents teach their children when they are small are childish things. And this process begins younger and younger and younger.
Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.
This week, my husband and I took our two Middles to see Kirk Cameron’s new movie, Connect. In that movie, they tackle the world of social media and smart phones with our children. He talks about all of the things that giving a child a phone opens them up to. By the end of the movie, I wanted to get rid of every TV and computer and phone in our life! I know this isn’t a realistic response, and that we need to live with the technology that society works with. I am on a piece of technology right now. I know that there can be good from it. But, I have to be honest, it is so hard to guard against all that it brings. Our children are able to see anything with just a click of the button. And, there are people out there who are there with ill intentions, targeting our children. It is a dangerous, dangerous world. (By the way, Tonight, Thursday, March 1 is the last day it is in theaters. I highly recommend you see it if you can!)
One comment he made in the movie was, “We have to give them a chance to fail while they are still halfway listening to us, because once they move out they are not listening to us much at all”. (paraphrased). This went straight to my heart. I have such a wide range of children, my children range in age from 8 to 21 years old. It’s a difficult spread to manage when it comes to togetherness as a family, because they are in such different seasons. I feel pulled in so many directions all the time. I am very involved with my children, but there are many issues that we have to deal with, and that often puts the bulk of the attention on the child or children who need it the most. I often feel like I am not enough. And, truly, none of us are- even for one child. But, I still worry that I’m missing important signs and signals from each child at different times.
And, as my older two have moved out and started living their lives, I am constantly reminded of how fast it went. I miss them both with my entire soul. I still talk to them fairly regularly, and each moment I spend talking with them is like water for my soul. But, I am further from that well now. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again- to me, this is the hardest season of parenting. People talk about when the children are babies and how you get no sleep, and you’re tired all the time. Yes, that’s hard. But you know it’s coming, and you’re so focused on that little one, and getting to know them. They are so dependent on you. It’s a very sweet time. The toddler years, when they start to explore, and get into things, and learn to disobey is hard. You have to be constantly on them. You are still tired from the infant stage. It’s easy to lose the beauty of this stage, but it is also so beautiful. This is the time when your child is learning to be their own person! Truly! And you are able to guide them and help them. It can feel like a burden, but it is really a blessing.
Teenage years are difficult for so many reasons. This is when the world really starts calling them. This is when they start to really look past you for wisdom, and advice. And there is a lot of unsound wisdom out there that is being fed to our children. Places like Planned Parenthood fighting for the right to intervene with our children without our knowledge, furthering the lie that parents have no value. Schools that are closed to parents, even church youth groups that don’t keep in good contact with parents. The “right to privacy” begins to take shape and parents are left more and more and more in the dark.
And, as parents, we are often part of the problem. When our kids are teenagers, we take a collective sigh, and believe that they don’t need us as much. We’ve been running this race for a long time now, and it’s time for us to start letting go too, we tell ourselves. And, that is partly true. But, we so often miss when our child is really struggling simply because we’re not connected with them like we once were.
Before we know it, they are graduating High School and headed off to college, or the mission field, or whatever they plan for themselves. And we send them out to the world. It is a necessary step. But, it is also a door darkened by danger that they have not encountered to this extent before. Even in the mission field they are vulnerable. The voices of the world say things like; “don’t talk to your parents about this because they won’t understand.” Or, “don’t talk to your parents here because they will disagree.” Or, “don’t talk to your parents too much, that says you’re not ready to be an adult.” Pride creeps in, as they try to prove themselves, and often this results in damaged or broken relationships either with the people around them, or their parents, or all of the above.
As parents, what are we to do in this time? It is so hard to have a good balance between sound wisdom and keeping connected with our children. They are being told lie after lie after lie. The world is intentionally imparting thoughts into our young adults and teenagers and even younger children through the TV. The devil does prowl around like a lion. He says things like; “premarital sex is normal and cool.” “Marijuana is not a “real drug”. It’s practically legal.” “Church is so boring.” “Christians are…… prudes, hateful, stupid, weak, don’t have any fun, uneducated.” Even in Christian Universities, the students are believing these things. They are walking away from their faith.
But it doesn’t start with these obvious statements. The really dangerous statements are in the more subtle ones. Social media and the news media paint Conservative Christians as racist. Our children don’t want to be thought of as racist. What should be good, is dividing us. We have raised our children to love everyone, regardless of color, and they do. They are so intent on that, that they don’t want to be associated with anything that could make them look racist. This is where the devil has really done some intense work. Media is often a powerful tool to take our children from the life we know they are called to. So they start to believe that Christians are racists, or misogynists, or sexists. Whatever the media is telling them. Because a lie said enough times seems true. The truth is, God calls us to LOVE. The truth is, we know our God created us all and loves us ALL.
Another not so obvious lie our children are believing is You deserve to be Happy. This is perhaps, the most dangerous. When our goal is happiness, it is completely dependent on our environment. We can so easily get caught up in things that make us happy in the moment, but while we’re busy being happy we lose our joy. The truth is, searching for happiness can take the most from us. When we believe this lie, the things that make us happy in the moment often damage our bodies, our relationships, and our heart. Things like premarital sex make us happy in the moment, but take away our innocence. It tells us not to address the matters of our heart, but to just look for the next thing that makes us happy. It tells us that things like a committed relationship don’t have value, because we won’t always be happy. It tells us that our long term goals are not as important as this moment in time.
I really don’t know the answers to combat these intense attacks on our children. I see families breaking apart all around me. I see the pain that this causes. I see the effects in my own life of these lies. I see them from when I was growing up, and I see them now with my children who are growing up. My instinct is to gather all of my chicks into my den and not let them out into the world. But that is the lie that I am believing. I am believing that I can be everything to them. I am believing that I am the absolute authority in their life. And the truth is, I am not. My job as a parent is to steward well what God has entrusted to me. To continually point them to Him. To love them like my Daddy God loves me- unconditionally. To pause before reacting. To pray fervently for them, and teach them to do the same for themselves. As parents, we have so little power with our children, but God. I have seen God do amazing things in my life. The question is, do I trust Him to do the same for my children?
Focus on the Family has a good article on how to deal with adult children who have lost their faith. Psycholgy today has a good article on being a mother of a child who is addicted to drugs. You can really search up any issue you are currently having with your child and find an article to help you. But what I find is a common thread among all of the issues is relationship. Strive to stay in relationship. You can remain in relationship without normalizing the behavior. Remind them and yourself who they are and more importantly, whose they are. Give yourself grace. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the ways that you need to change and take action, but don’t allow the devil to speak lies into your life as well.
In the movie Connect, they talked to the author of the book Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World. If you are struggling with proper balance of the screens in your life, this looks like a great book. In it, she talks about the 5 lies our children believe and God’s truth to counter them. I’ve never taken notes in the middle of the movie theater before, but I sure did while at the movie Tuesday night!
As our children go out into the world they will make mistakes. They will make decisions we don’t agree with. They will test the boundaries of life. They will fall. We did too. It was part of how we grew up. It was part of how we developed our value system we have now.
One of the reasons I’m so firm on my beliefs about premarital sex, for example, is because I learned first hand in my own life how destructive it is. It wasn’t because I was raised better than that. In fact, I was raised in a home that normalized it. It was because I made those decisions and learned from them. It took many years for me to realize the damaging effects it had on my life. As parents, we want our children to learn from our mistakes, to avoid the pain we’ve encountered, but we need to remember that pain is how we learn the most. And, we need to remember, that sometimes the deep lessons our children need to learn take time.
What are your thoughts on this? Please share this post with other parents and comment below so we can support each other!
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