He walks through the kitchen, earbuds in place with that glazed over, far away look in his eyes. You can hear the beat; in fact you can almost feel it for as loud as it’s playing. And you cringe. You recoil from yet another encounter in this battle that pits you firmly against a world fighting for your child.
Take heart, dear mother…there are many of us out here in the trenches with you. Far too many.
Because at some time or another, in this digital age where the primal senses have nearly overtaken all semblance of common sense, most of us have done similar battle on one field or another. Often we’re just loathe to admit it. We don’t want people to know our kids aren’t who they should be or, even worse, we aren’t the parents we ought to be.
Let’s do each other a favor, drop all these pretenses and get a little real for a minute. Because the lives of our children depend on it.
We’re going to admit in the place, in this quiet moment, that our kids are in danger. Even if they’re in danger from that which we can’t even see and cannot call by name. Because if they are alive, and if they are breathing, they need us to be on the front lines with them, not hunkering down in the corner with our heads in the sand.
Here are 5 things I am learning as my first-born turns 19 and my smallest is just 2…
1.It isn’t you, it’s him. From the time my first child was born, I beat myself up over every stage he went through. When he screamed endlessly, refused food, and arched his back in protest, I was certain it was my fault. I had done something to spoil him. Maybe I had loved him too much or held him too close or tended him too often. And then when he was a toddler and protested sitting through church with the banging of his head against my chest, I lamented that I’d ruined him even further. Because good mothers don’t raise naughty children, right?
Good mothers, even those cooperating with the Holy Spirit, are raising children with a carnal nature. Which means they are contending with the forces of darkness at work on their child. Which also means, they are not to blame for that which comes forth naturally from that child. We can place that blame fully in the hands of the devil. But wait, because while that eradicates you from guilt, it doesn’t relieve you of your role.
Because what we do with those carnal natures is the hinge on which the door between Christ and the world swings. We cannot wash our hands of the blame and walk away. We must instead gird ourselves for the task by basking in His light. Because it is our own connection with Christ that will endow us with the wisdom needed for our individual fight for each child.
2. Lectures are less effective than loving. I can almost hear the gasps. Another one of those moms who is all about love instead of the law. Great lot of good that logic has done our society. But hear me out, because it may not be as it seems.
If there’s one thing most mothers are gifted at, it’s giving a good lecture. We can sit them down and talk a blue streak at them to rival the best. But what if we clamped shut our mouths for a minute and entered into their lives? If we purposed to build relationships that transformed our conversations from lectures to dialogue? What if we dared to lay aside our pride, and our fears, so we could learn who they really are and who they want most to become?
It’s consuming, I’ll admit, but it binds their heart to ours in ways with which the devil cannot compete. And it’s exactly what Jesus did when He assumed humanity that we might be saved.
3. They may not be as lost as they seem. And by lost here, I’m referring to drawn to the world. Because often these kids are just confused. They may be finding something in the wrong music or movies or websites that makes them feel a sense of purpose. Or validation. Or camaraderie. It may be that they don’t actually crave that which they’re seeking, but that they simply don’t know how to seek that which they’re craving.
We cannot save them from the world but we can point them to Christ. We can enter into their battle, in love and with grace, and shine light by way of example. If God is real to you, and they see you clinging to Him in times of struggle and grasping at Him for your sense of worth, they will notice. And they will take cues from those who try to understand them best, even if evidence of such is not immediately available.
4. God’s path for them may look different than you expect. Many a mother has sidelined a child’s vision because it didn’t line up with their own. Most of us haven’t done it intentionally, but out of distrust in our children’s judgement. How the truth is, we are not accountable for the choices they make. We are only accountable for what we have done to help or hinder those choices.
When they are young, we are called to be nearly everything for them. Their conscience, their guide, their judge and their jury. But as they grow, in both spirit and stature, we must allow them to progressively assume those roles for themselves. We can no longer dictate their every move and decision. And we can no longer punish every seeming infraction. The early years of training have passed and it is now time to train ourselves to let God have them. They are His from the beginning, but never in such a real sense as when we must hand them over.
5. Don’t be afraid to tell them what He’s done for you. You’ve heard the term Holy boldness, I’m assuming. But how often have you felt yourself shrink before the task of being bold with your growing or nearly grown child? We come up with all sorts of excuses like he won’t want to listen or she’ll think I’m old-fashioned or I’ll push them further away. But, while spouting off at the mouth can certainly do damage, what harm can come from sharing who Christ is to YOU?
It’s very different than telling them what to do or how to do it. And it isn’t shoving an unwanted gospel down a resistant throat. It’s simply offering your testimony in an unassuming, non-confrontational way.
Which is the essence of the gospel message, anyway. And who better to share it with than the very people God has placed in your home?!
What have you learned through your years of parenting? What can you share that others might glean?