Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Parenting a Prodigal: Part Two

This is the second post in a series. You can read the first post here if you would like.

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If you were a Christian parent in the 1990's, you had an arsenal of VeggieTales in your cabinet for your children to watch during TV time.  Veggie Tales was so popular at our church library that there were waiting lists sometimes weeks long to check out newly released videos.  As a parent I loved that Veggie Tales was interesting to my toddlers but also taught a biblical lesson.  Recently, I read an article about Veggie Tales creator Phil Vishcer regretting not making the popular Christian series less about morality and more about the gospel.  As a parent, when I read this a light bulb went off in my head.  I realized that while I brought my children to church, I prayed with them and I taught them to be "good" people.  I don't think I taught them how to translate that into how to live a life for Christ. 

If you had asked me what my parenting goals were when my kids were little I would have answered, to have them godly contributing members of society.  If you had asked how I was going to achieve this, I would have said by praying with them, teaching them the bible, making church and education a priority in our home.  This is what we did and we certainly thought we were on the right track because if not we would have changed course.  

All of my children were in church from the time they were little babies until they headed off to college.  We even went to visit churches while on vacation, there was rarely a time that we did not go to church at least three times a week; sometimes more.  They were in Mission Friends, Children's Choirs, Youth Group and even the College/Careers classes.  What we missed in all of this was teaching our prodigal who God was to her.  Like the VeggieTales videos, we taught a moral compass and about God but not who He was in their life.  If I had to do it again there are a few things I would change in how I parented. 

I would focus less on sound-byte scripture memorization and more on reading the Word in context.  As a parent, I spent a lot of time teaching my kids how to memorize scripture.  They got sound-bytes instead of learning the Word of God as a whole.  I think this type of teaching missed the mark.  Writer Girl can throw out bible verses as well as the next person.  As a matter of fact she even has a trophy from Bible Drill, what she doesn't have is a knowledge of what that scripture means.  She doesn't know the whole story so to speak.  This was/is a stumbling block to her now that she is out in the "real" world of academia where her peers and professors seem to have the answers for all of their arguments against Christianity.

I would try to remember that God gave my children to me because I was the right parent for them.  I think I failed my daughter a bit when she was young because I was not sure I knew how to parent.  I looked to others for advice instead of to the Lord.  Now that the kids are older and I am a tiny bit wiser, I realize that the best place I can go for answers about how to parent is to the Lord.  I can do this through prayer or through searching the Word.  I did not do this nearly enough when my kids were young because I felt inadequate as a young Christian.  I thought I did not know enough to ensure that my kids were getting a godly upbringing.  What I realize now is that God doesn't make mistakes.  He choose me to be their mother not the other moms.  This means that if we seek God for answers about struggles and parenting our children, He will be faithful to answer and guide.

I would focus less on education and extracurricular activities. This one is hard. My husband and I feel like an educated Christian is very powerful in the current world.  We believe that education is important to the point that we have driven a twenty-five minute drive one way to the school we feel is best for our children.  So, please hear me when I say that education is important but it is not as important as knowing that your child is spiritually sound.  I am not going to bash public schools because we have had great experiences with public school as much as we've had horrible experiences with Christian schools.  But I will say this looking back, the biggest mistake I made in educating my children was letting Writer Girl go to an International Baccalaureate program.  I believed the good education outweighed the worldliness of the program and that her faith in Christ was strong enough to get her through unscathed.  It wasn't.  Sadly, I didn't know until it was too late.

When I was searching for more insight into how to raise a child that is secure in their faith. I came across this article about raising godly children..  As I said before no one can parent your child as well as you can but it's nice to have a few resources that might help lead your to scripture for answers. 


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