Last week on Facebook, there was a copy & paste status that read:
At the age of 4: Mom knows everything! At 8: Mom knows a lot! At 12: Mom doesn’t know everything. At 14: Mom doesn’t know anything. At 16: Mom doesn’t exist. At 18: Mom's old fashioned. At 25: Maybe Mom does know about this! At 35: Before we decide, let’s ask Mom! At 45: I wonder what Mom thinks about this? At 75: I wish I could ask my Mom.
While I would contend that the "Mom doesn't know everything" part has already affected my six-almost-seven year old, the rest of it rings true. For me, at least. My poor mom. Poor moms in general. It really is the most thankless of jobs, even when we try to teach our children the importance of gratitude.
Sam and I decided to join in on a parenting class offered at our church. We went for the first time last Sunday and I'm really excited to dive right in. We watched an introductory video that talked about the way our parents and grandparents were raised and how dramatically different our generation raises our children. It was a sobering reality to say the least.
As he spoke, I naturally thought back to my childhood and how my parents chose to raise my sister and me. There is no doubt that their parenting was a product of how they were raised. It seemed incredibly unfair at the time, but looking back, I'm so grateful for the model they provided for me.
As a mother now I can honestly say that the task of parenting is a daunting one. I am sometimes consumed by the fear that I will cause irreparable damage to my kids as a result of mistakes that I might make. This lack of confidence is caused by my attempts at parenting on my own. Without God's guidance. And if that keeps up, I will fail at parenting.
Parenting God's way is not the popular thing to do, especially not these days. (That cliche I read on a poster in high school comes to mind - "What's right is not always popular, but what's popular isn't always right.") It has become an era in which we are consumed by accomplishment, not by attitude, behavior, and respect. We place relentless pressure on our children to do better, learn more, succeed at any cost. But where is the pressure for them to treat people with respect, use their manners, have integrity?
In reminiscing back to my childhood, I remember playing independently for hours at a time with my Barbies, riding my bike back and forth on the sidewalk in front of our house, kicking a ball back and forth in the back yard, reading books. It never occurred to me to even ask my mom or dad to play with me. And I didn't feel less loved because of that. I just learned to be creative, so as not to get bored (the dreaded "B" word that was forbidden in my house). When it came time to start school, my parents never pressured me to do anything more than my best. This was a huge blessing as I put more than enough pressure on myself. I wholeheartedly believe, though, that if my best had been less than straight-A's, that would have been completely okay with them. There were no rewards for good grades. I was expected to do chores (even if I did figure out that if I claimed I needed to do homework right after dinner before I did the dishes, that my mom would end up doing them for me). I simply knew not to interrupt when adults were talking, to sit still and be quiet while we were in church, and to use my common sense when it came down to making choices.
Children today don't have those simple luxuries. It gets increasingly harder with each passing day to do right by our children, because so many other do not. It is incredibly difficult to explain to a seven year old why a certain behavior is unacceptable when he is the only one being held to that standard.
Was I a perfect child? Absolutely not. Am I a perfect adult? No way, no how. But I do think that I was raised well. And I wholeheartedly intend to fight the uphill battle that is raising children with traditional values in a postmodern world.
Today, I want to acknowledge my parents who taught me that life is about more than accomplishments. That life is about loving God, doing the right thing, living up to my God-given potential (which is the definition of success), sharing my gifts with others, being respectful, and simply, well, living simply. It is a gift that could not possibly have more value. As I think back, I am filled with thanks. Because everything was simpler then.
And that's how it should be.
"Dear Lord, as Sam and I continue to raise the three children that you have so graciously lent to us, may we always remember to look to you for guidance. Please help us be the parents to them that our parents were to us. Please help us instill a good character in them in order to withstand the pressures of our world. Allow us to encourage and nurture their gut instinct, which is a combination of your Holy Spirit and their own common sense. Above all, please allow our marriage and lives to be a model for them, so that when they are starting families of their own, they will think back with gratitude and maybe even a smile to the way we loved each other and the "unfair" and simple way we raised them. Please help us remember that events may transpire and the world may be change, but that You never do. Thank you for that."
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Unwrapping the priceless gift of a simple childhood today at...