I love it when Christian parents whose kids haven’t even yet made it out of the nest with their faith seriously tried, tested and found true, lecture others about “how to raise godly kids”.
Every time I see one of these dandies come forth, hawking their wisdom that’s yet to be seriously proven in the Asplundh of the real world, I feel like saying, “Uh … you might wanna just keep doing R&D and dial back a skooch with your 'How To’s' until Dinky has made it out of 6th grade without getting a nipple ring and a pentagram tattooed on his forehead.”
Personally, I’d let life chew on my kids a tad and see how they fare before you come out with your five-point plan.
Listening to parents who’s child raising principles have yet to be verified is like listening to a single person telling a married couple with four kids, a half-million dollar mortgage and a live-in aunt with a mustache how to juggle the complexities of managing a big family. Sure, I might listen politely, but inwardly I’m thinking, “Really? C’mon, really?”
Being blessed with two girls who’re out of the house and now, in their 20’s, who have a real, living, vital, unfeigned faith that’s been road-tested at levels that would make most mature adults wince, I think I have a little credence when it comes to raising kids.
In no particular order, here’s some chicken scratches regarding how my wife and I did a decent, God-graced job with our indomitable lasses:
1. My wife and I never pretended to be perfect or expected them to pretend to be fabulous all the time. We lived real lives in front of our kids. Not phony, duplicitous, grin until your damn teeth are dried Stepford existences of polished and pretentious perfection. When I screwed up, and it was often, I owned it. I didn’t blame the devil or others for my faux pas.
They understood that even though their folks love God, we were not God. We let them know we needed grace and when they derailed we gave them grace. Ask ‘em and they’ll tell you that the life we live in secret matches our public life in all of its good, bad and ugliness. If you want your kids to bail on their faith, then be a duplicitous dipstick and a graceless hack and they’ll dump your faith like a bad habit. Remember, the gospel is primarily caught, not taught.
2. My wife and I portrayed Jesus as a grand and glorious God and not some mean and nasty, old, petulant Deity who measures dress hems and hates beer. A lot of kids rebel against God not because they hate him but because they hate the way their parents have painted him as a small and petty cosmic killjoy. If you want to guarantee your kids will walk away from the faith, just make it an obnoxiously narrow, fastidiously legalistic, life-sucking, skull-numbing guilt trip. Personally, I think people who make God and the gospel boring and miserable should be first to be tossed into the lake of fire. How someone can take the greatest story ever told and make it suck is both beyond me and unforgivable.
3. Christianity to us equated adventure. Y’know, when I read the Bible I don’t get that the characters it lauds loathed the path they trod but actually delighted in it and found it exceedingly and abundantly beyond all they could ask or imagine; and Jonesed for it, versus the crap life of separation from the life of God.
My wife and I showcased a Christianity that was rich with the unknown, adventure, risk and reward. Quite frankly, what they saw and what we touted to them was something that was pretty sweet, and only an idiot would want to rebel against it. And they’re not idiots.
4. We never isolated ourselves. Our friends were everyone and not just creepy-ass crackers. Our house over the years looked like a Star Wars bar scene of rock stars, diplomats, Fox News contributors, strippers, New York Times best-selling authors, the gay, the straight, the successful, the homeless, AIDS victims, doctors and the demented of every imaginable stripe. Our house was wide open to those who were wide open to Him. Please don’t dismiss this little ditty.
5. When I was a pastor, I made certain that I wasn’t married to the church. I never bought into this crap that my church came before my family. Man of God, if you dump your family for “ministry” they’ll return the favor later on in life and dump you and the “God” who took their parents away from them in their formative years. If you don’t believe me then just plow on and see what happens.
6. Lastly, our Christianity wasn’t anti-intellectual. My kids grew up on Clive Staple’s musings, Os Guinness’s and Tolkien’s tomes, philosophy and philosophers; and I often brought them to seminary with me where they got to hear, up close and personal, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. D. James Kennedy and other esteemed theologians who didn’t have three teeth and an IQ of 50.
That’s what we did, folks, and it worked.
Our kids are our greatest joy. It hasn’t been easy, but then again, so what? That’s life. It’s ‘spose to be messy. However, now, as young alpha females conquering the planet, their faith, their tenacity, their successes, their work ethic and their love for God and this country beats anything this world has ever offered this redneck; and for this we’re forever grateful.
I pray God blesses you and yours like he has my wife and me.
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