I've been processing this for about the last 30 days or so, and don't have this all figured out, but one of the things I'm trying to do as a parent these days is this:
I want to live in a such a way that I model and teach values to my kids that they won't have to unlearn later.I don't want to spend a lot of time apologizing for false guilt, misguided rules, unhealthy expectations, and solid convictions I lived by and clearly enforced but have since then abandoned.
Sure, every parent is screwing up their kids in some way. None of us are perfect. But the most extreme example of this I can think of is that parents in our country- in the not so distant past- honestly defended racial segregation, even in the church... and yet were sincerely WRONG. Like I can't ever imagine a day when I'm going to change my opinion on that statement. But there are pastors who had to apologize to their kids for being comfortable with the sin of racism and even promoting it. I really don't ever want to look myself in the mirror and say, "I firmly believed this thing to be true, taught it with great passion and conviction, and now know it to be fully false." So I ask myself, "What are the things I believe today that I will apologize to my kids or my grandkids 20 years from now?" Because I know that stuff is so hard to see in the mirror, the answer scares me to death as a pastor and a parent.
In the past month or so, I've read or heard two quotes that have surfaced this in me again:
Ed Noble, our lead pastor said this at our Parenting Summit last month:
"we need to lead our children to a Jesus that we're not going to have to unlead them to later"Rob Bell, in a sideline comment about the Jesus we lead students to in his book "love wins" says:
"My wife and I often talk about raising our kids in such a way that they have as little as possible to unlearn later on in life."So to this end, I'm trying to do these three things at least:
- LEARN FROM MY KIDS QUESTIONS: I'm trying to read my kids by reading their questions. When they ask questions, they are not just seeking information, they are telling me what they are observing. As I hear them ask stuff, I'm learning not only what they are wondering, but what I'm teaching them by accident. That is more important to me than what I think I'm teaching them on purpose.
- EMBRACE HUMILITY BEFORE CERTAINTY: I'm not trying to be wishy washy with my kids. But I am trying to help them develop a thinking faith and I'm honestly trying to think about mine. The older I get, the more educated I become, the less stuff I'm willing to die for. I'm trying to model for my kids a humble genuine faith that doesn't paint the world black and white just because it's easier to be clear about stuff. Maybe I should be less clear and more humble on purpose.
- DON'T EXPECT WHAT I DON'T MODEL: If I want my kids to care for the poor, then I better do that clearly before and with them. If I want my kids to keep their room clean, then mine better be clean. If I want my kids to not drive and text, then I better stop driving and texting. If I want my kids to say their sorry when they wrong someone, then I had better do it first. If I don't want my kids to unlearn stuff from me, then a great place for me to start is to not teach stuff I have already begun to unlearn myself.