Archives For parenting

There’s something I need to say, something I need to get off my chest: I’m a dummy. Not a stiff, immovable mannequin (although I’ve been accused of that), but rather a dummy with regards to the raising of offspring.
 
 Now what I’m talking about here isn’t so much about the inculcation of values, moral instruction, family rules, etc. Because there are non-negotiables: don’t cheat, don’t lie, tell the truth, clean up after yourself, help out around the house. What I’m talking about is the staggering realization is that, yes, while the goal is to (hopefully) one day raise responsible adults, children are not adults.
 
 You see: that’s how I was raised. Kids were mini-adults, expected to be interested in adult things. And it’s just what I did with my own kids: expected them–instead of being their own people with their own likes, dislikes, prejudices, interests–to share my likes, etc.
 
 I’ve spent a great number of years trying to uplift them into my world; instead of meeting them where they’re at. I’ve been such a dummy! Parenting doesn’t necessarily mean that ones kids will follow you into all of your interests; rather, it often means taking an interest in theirs. It means playing video games (even if you hate them), playing dolls, or ball, even if there are a thousand other things to do (like reading through that ever-growing stack of books). It means training them up in the way they should go–not necessarily in the way you would have them go.
 
 The quickest way to shut someone down, whether kid or adult, is to show no interest (or outright indifference) in something they care about. Conversely, showing an interest shows that we care, that we’re invested, in not only the activity, but in them as well. Because the fact is that quality time doesn’t just happen.
 
 It happens in the midst of a quantity of time. It happens via an intentional investment. So folks–men, women, moms, dads–how can we be more intentional today? Because I’m thinking I’m not the only dummy out there.
 
 
 

This year, my favorite Christmas present wasn’t a gizmo, a gadget, a phone, or some other compellingly cool technological marvel.

I didn’t get:

An Amazon FireTV

An AppleTV

A new laptop

Or even any books (e, or otherwise).

No, my favorite gift this year was from my eight-year-old daughter (with an assist from mom, who took her shopping), and uses technology that’s been around for centuries.

While the other things would have been nice, displaying a knowledge of the things I like (and would have been appreciated), what I got shows me just how special I am to a certain little.

It shows me how loved I am.

It’s not really even so much the gift itself as it is the sentiment behind it. So just what is this magical gift?

image

Just a couple of bracelets–which happen to mean the world to me. Thank-you, Bella, daddy will wear them with pride.

Love you.

“Son,” I said. “I would really appreciate it if you shut your alarm off–instead of just snoozing it–before you get in the shower.”

“Hzsbec… Wha? Okay, dad.”

“Thanks, kiddo. You know your mom hasn’t been feeling well, and we’ve been up late. Sure appreciate it.”

“Sure, dad. Wanna play Monster Techno Chainsaw Zombie Slayer?”

————-

The next day: birds are chirping, the warm light of dawn is peeking in the ghost the shades…

“EHN, EHN, EHN” wails the alarm. No one’s turning it off. The soft sounds of a shower are heard.

A shower? He did it again!

Bleary-eyed dad wrenches himself out of bed, shuffles across the hall, turns off the alarm. Meanwhile, steam wafts under the door of the kids’ bathroom. Must be nice…

Wait. Dad knows! Time for Mr. iPod and Mrs. Cellphone to be disappeared. Dad takes them, hides them, tries to find his happy place under the warm covers.

“DAD! WHERE’S. MY. PHONE? AND MY IPOD?”

“Go away. Don’t miss the bus.”

“I NEEED MY PHONE. GIVE IT TO ME NOW.”

“Listen, kid–are we gonna do this? Right here, right now? You’re really gonna argue about that stuff when you need to catch the bus? You don’t wanna throw down with me.”

“BUT WHY? WHAT DID I DO?”

“You missed the bus yesterday, I had to take you to school, and you let your alarm blare into the darkness yet again. Even after I told you to. Turn. It. Off. So I took your stuff. You can have it back later.”

“I thought it was off. I NEED MY PHONE. NOW!”

“Step off, son. Are you trying to wake the dead? Great! You woke up your sister. Just go. Stop arguing, and get yourself to the bus.”

“BUT… BUT…” Sputter, shuffle, slam.

“Oh, God,” I prayed. “Give me grace.”

NOTA BENE: I can neither confirm, nor deny, the veracity of this story, but rather leave it up to you, gentle reader, to decide for yourself if it’s true.

20121205-062754.jpgI have made many mistakes as a parent, but perhaps none so grievous as quashing my son’s belief in Santa at a very young age. What can I say? I was living out of a very conservative, a very legalisitic, place in my faith.

I was afraid.

I was afraid, at that time, that allowing him to continue to believe in Santa would, and his subsequent eventual discovery of the truth, damage my credibility vis-a-vis Jesus. I did not want him to feel lied to.

I could not have been more wrong.

Oh, sure my intentions were good, but the net effect–and this is something that took me years to understand–was rather than protecting him, I was harming him. Moreover, in quashing his childlike faith, I was creating a hyper-rationalist–someone who was skeptical of everything.

Hewing to a conservative theology is one thing. Having convictions, and keeping them, can be a very wonderful thing in our world. It is indeed important to stand for something. Thing is, and my wife–being much more intuitive about these things–tried to warn me: I was doing far more harm than good.

Because, you see, having a belief in Santa at a young age is something Jesus can work with. Rather than hindering an eventual trust in Jesus, this childlike faith actually fosters faith in him. For that sweet sincerity of childhood makes a transfer of trust all the easier. Because, though they do not know it, what they are truly seeking is him, is Jesus. (I think of Shasta, in C.S. Lewis last Narnian tale, The Last Battle, who–though he did not know it, truly sought Aslan all along).

So take it from one who has been there: the consequences of quashing childlike faith (which, sadly, eventually happens all on its own) early are far-reaching. Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy skepticism, but fostering it too early takes just about all the wonder out of the world.

Which is why my wife and I are doing things differently with our daughter: we are allowing her to believe in the the Tooth Fairy, Santa, et cetera for as long as she needs to. We will cross the bridge when we need to, and not sooner.

Childlike wonder is a wonderful thing to behold. Let live as long as you can.

What do think? Speak on it:

All, it seems since before I went to bootcamp, my family has been under one kind of concerted attack, or another. First, it was my marriage; then our health, sleep, finances. And now our little girl’s health. Again.

About a month ago, she was in the hospital with an extremely high fever, and was dehydrated as a result. Now she’s been struck ill again.

This week, my wife Lisa, is supposed to leave for the Captivating Women’s Retreat. It seems that everything that’s happened recently has had one goal: keep her from going.

Despite knowing, and receiving multiple confirmations, that she is supposed to go.

Please join us in praying against these things that assault her womanly heart, and seek to take her out. Please pray that God clears the way for the wonderful time he has planned for her.

Thank-you, and God bless you all!

How can I be praying for you?