Friday, August 22, 2008

Swimming Upstream

Well, summer is almost over. School starts on Monday, and I hope to make the most of the last vacation day with my sweet children - ages 14, 12, and 8. We might go to the movie, do a little shopping, and maybe have one last swimming pool outing.

I could list dozens of reasons why I love summer so much, but if I had to choose one thing that tops everything else, it would be that we can take a vacation from all the "stuff" at school. Although education is a number one priority in my family, I am thrilled every year when school is finally over, and we can enjoy lazy summer days, but most importantly - because we can take a vacation from all the school "stuff" for a few months.

What is "stuff", you ask? It would be things such as: too much homework, stress over not understanding math, problems with friends, problems with boyfriends, trying to make new friends, feelings of not fitting in, insecurities, fashion woes, self image woes, mean girls, uncompassionate teachers, drama, drama, and more drama. Did I say drama yet?

Other fun things in the "stuff" category would include things such as: "All my friends are going to see the rated R movie, why cant I?"; "All my friends get to go to the party, why cant I?"; everybody else has a Facebook; nobody elses mom cares about what they watch on TV, or if they have boys over, or if they wear immodest clothing, or if they stay out late, or if they text all night long.

Sometimes I think if I hear the word "everybody else" one more time, I might explode.

Do you ever feel like you are the only parent in the world who cares about the welfare of their kids? Do you ever feel like you are the only parent who wants to raise their kids with strong Christian values and an understanding of right from wrong? Do you ever feel like the only parent who sets any limitations whatsoever?

Do you ever feel like you are swimming upstream against a current so strong that you are not sure if you can survive? I know I do.

Despite my frustrations, I know that I am not the only parent who cares about the welfare of their kids. I know Im not the only parent who takes their kids to church. I know that most parents adore their children and want to do what is best for them

However, one thing sets parents apart. I believe the difference between true Christian parents, and just parents who are Christians, is that they are not willing to give up the fight just because it would be easier than fighting to the finish.

Nobody likes conflict - especially me! Lets face it, life would be much less stressful, with much fewer arguments, if we didnt care what our kids wore, what they did, where they went, who their friends were, whether or not they use cuss words, go to parties, drink, smoke, and watch whatever they want on television despite the content or the language.

Sometimes it may seem like looking the other way would make life simpler. Sometimes we probably all feel like giving up the fight. But lets ask ourselves - is my childs well being and the stake of their future really worth a little less stress? Absolutely not. Is my child worth the years of effort and frustration and constant teaching, if it helps them to grow into adolescents and young adults who love God and can make good choices as a result? Absolutely.

Proverbs 22:6 says this, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." This is a well known verse by most Christians, but I think it is one taken much too lightly by Christian parents. This verse seems to be viewed as a guideline for Christian parents, instead of a truth that needs to be taken seriously.

Being a Christian parent entails so much more than just taking kids to church or teaching them to pray. Training a child up in the way he should go doesnt stop when you leave the sanctuary. It is an every day battle.

It may even mean being labeled as one of "those" parents.

One of "those" parents who all the other kids think are too strict. One of "those" parents whom other Christian parents think they are taking their faith too far. One of "those" parents who are willing to set boundaries, carry out consequences, and stick to their guns even when it doesnt win them the popularity contest.

I have known many Christian parents whom I very much like as friends, however, I very much disagree with their hands-off parenting style. It seems that often parents take their roles very seriously when the kids are infants, toddlers, and elementary and middle school ages, but when they hit the teen years, and things get a little tougher, they give the kids the steering wheel and take a backseat in their lives.

When the going gets tough, the tough should get tougher. The responsibility of being a parent is not one that stops when the kids get old enough to feed and dress themselves, or even drive. In fact, our role gets even more important as they grow older. Dont you agree?

Unfortunately, the world we live in is not one that promotes the role of the Christian parent. In fact, our society poisons the minds of children starting a young age through the media and social pressures. But our role as Christians, and Christian parents, is to be in the world, but not of the world, and to be set apart - not set aside.

It is our god-given duty to hold the reigns until our children are old enough to make good decisions on their own. We dont have to let our kids do things that we do not approve of, simply because all the other Christian parents are letting their kids do it. We always have a choice - to go with the flow, or stand up for our beliefs.

We all know children are a blessing, but we also need to bless our kids - with the gift of Godly parents. Godly parents that will stand up for their faith, despite the pressures to go with the flow that are inflicted by other Christian and non-believing parents.

Todays definition of "wrong" is much different that what it used to be - in fact, the line between right and wrong is so blurred, kids today are confused! As Christian parents, we can help clear up the confusion by training our children in the way they should go, even when it is not fun.

Being a Godly, Christian parent is not a suggestion --- it is a biblical command from the creator of heaven and earth. Yes, it would be much easier to swim with the current, and let the ways of society and the pressures of others guide our kids, all the while asking God to watch over them - but is that really enough? Is the easy road really the best road?

Swimming upstream with so much "stuff" in the water is not easy. Swimming upstream in a society which wants us to think that "anything goes" is a hard swim. Swimming upstream against a culture that promotes everything that God is against is exhausting. But you know what? I believe my kids are worth it. Arent yours?

Take a stand for your faith today by being willing to step up and be the Godly parent that God has called you to be. It will be well worth the swim.

Proverbs 22:6 Point your kids in the right direction— when they're old they won't be lost. (MSG)

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momsal13 said...

Thank you, and AMEN!!!

A Simple Country Girl said...

Yes ma'am I agree...we are parents 24 hours a day and thankfully Christians 24 hours a day too! The two aren't just titles, they are who we are in the life God has given us. And yes, both come with blessed responsibilities and God-directed duties.

Thank you for reminding us of this before school starts up again!

"Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children."
~ Lamentations 2:19

Laurie Ann said...

Amen and Amen! Our nest is empty now but we have no regrets of the training we did. We see areas where we fell short but God picked up the pieces quickly and we got back on track, but we were committed to Kristyn the way you are to your children, even when the "world" was different. Stay strong! I'll be praying for you.

Joyful said...

Wow Tracie! This is one of the most inclusive, positive, challenging, convicting, truth-filled writings on godly Christian parenting I have ever read!

It is a struggle to 'swim upstream', and the temptation to roll over on my back and let the current carry me off to the 'school of fish' with seemingly lesser values is strong. (My mind is picturing a scene from the children's movie "Finding Nemo" right now!)

Thanks for this tremendous word of encouragement. Often if feels like I'm in this alone, but 'though none go with me, still I will follow - no turning back, no turning back'.

Praying for strength to resist the pull of the current,