Friday, July 30, 2010

Parenting Design -- How Parents Can Re-Draw the Plans

I read a quote this morning that expressed how I've been feeling about my parenting lately: "Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

This piece we are working on has many beautiful parts. It is a tapestry I'm largely proud of, in the context that any good we do is God's work. But there's a smudge here, a jagged line there, some discoloration in some places, an evil doodle in that corner. There are words of affirmation all over the piece, but a few words (maybe more than a few?) we don't want to say, hiding in the corners.

In earthly terms, you just can't undo what you've done. I've been feeling that for a few days, exacerbated nightly as Judy reads to me excerpts from a fine parenting book by parents who started doing all the right things very early. The enemy tries to condemn (this blog does not!), and I recognize discouragement as perhaps Satan's greatest tool. There are seasons when he reminds you of every mean word you ever said to a child or every situation you mismanaged. The quote and the review of our parenting life (21 kids through the home, for various lengths of time) left me wondering how much better off our children would be if we could remove the mistakes.

So what do you and I do with our parenting mistakes? We don't have an eraser. It's like we have a blood stain on a white shirt! You moms, in particular, know how hard it is to get out blood.

Ah, but Jesus turned the tide (bad pun intended, sorry). His Blood does get out stains!

The blood of Christ is an eraser. I'm not saying there are not earthly ramifications for sin, but I am reminding you that the grace of God extended from the Cross by the Holy Spirit to your life and into your family's life can clean up the nasty images, evil doodles and false starts of your work, and mine.

How?  Let's let powerful theology meet practical life. You're a parent. You've made mistakes. Your kids can name them as well as you can. You want to change courses. You have an idea how, but the past . . . has too much damage been done?  In 99 percent of cases, no. (Of course, there is the occassional extreme abuse case).

Here is what you do: Own it. Honesty and humility are great credibility builders. They are key ingredients in a holy cleanser. I've seen many intense moments with kids -- my kids, other parents and their kids -- absolutely desolve into tender love when a parent looked at a child and said, 'I blew it. I sinned, and I apologize.' Pfffft. There went the angry, evil pressure that was building.

I'm not just talking about sin in the heat of the moment -- a yelling match, a curse, a threat -- I'm talking about big picture stuff.

If you want to center the parent plan on Christ and re-shape family life when you are already years into it, just sit down the family and say so. A summary of the talk may look something like this: "Kids, we love you passionately and thank God for you. (Mom or Dad) and I have been praying and thinking about the direction our family is headed, and about how we have raised you. We want to apologize for some mistakes we have consistently made, and we want to set a new course. We want you to understand, from a Biblical perspective, why we are making changes. We're really going to need your cooperation, but we'll all find ourselves in far more peace and purposeful as we adjust."

Then tell the truth. Apologize for the bad very specificallly, then lay out a new plan. You're not surrending authority, your gaining credibility! The plan doesn't have to be perfect. I promise it won't be! But re-start. Turn it over to Christ. Let His blood cleanse yours!

Need help with the plan? Contact us.

We've been through this re-drawing thing a time or two.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why You & Your Kids are Going Crazy

Why are you and your kids going crazy? Because you and I are like a long home run: "Going, going, going -- Gone."

Judy and I have had a rash of 'awakening' moments lately that look like this: We will be driving somewhere -- or mostly likely back from somewhere -- with our kids and a few more, and one of us will say, "Did we really need to do that? Could we have had as much fun playing a game at home, walking by the lakes that are near our house (instead of the streams an hour away), watching a movie together at home?"

We'll be tired, the kids will be cranky, we will have just spent money we don't have (so to speak). It's starting to sink in -- we GO too much. We seek to entertain ourselves -- and that's not always bad. But does an American Christian middle-class family have to be going and doing to be happy?

Strong in my spirit -- and I believe it is from the Spirit -- is the urge to stay home more, and to learn to enjoy that with my family. We have a nice home, as most of you do, so why do we so often think we have to be somewhere else to be happy?

I'm not at all against family outings, vacations, etc., but here's the crux of the matter: Most of us can honor God more with our time usage, spending and commitment to real dialogue with our children by staying home more.

This may not seem like a crucial, hard parenting issue, but we also may all be getting fooled into a busy-ness that undercuts our goals. Think about it. Don't go crazy.


Today's blog is link-intensive, as I've seen many things I want to share over the past weeks but haven't produced a blog. After a summer of administration and re-tooling, I'll be back to consistent blog production.

As I reviewed many links I had filtered about family, I found a lot of secular stories that were of use. Here's what I'm seeing: non-Christian parents are asking some of the right questions, and non-Christian researchers are seeing some of the right data. It's just that neither are coming up with the right conclusions! (mostly). Among the following links are many secular stories, but they have value as you use the data and the questions and issues to apply the Word in your context.

I realize there is more below that you can absorb in one sitting; please return to the blog from time to time and keep exploring.