The Background Story
I decided to read the “Love Dare,” book with the only the knowledge of the book having come from the movie and thought if I had watched the movie I should probably read the book. If you have not yet read it here comes a little spoiler alert. One of the “Dares” is should you get upset with your spouse regardless of the reason to not react and if necessary walk away. It was at this time my mother in law with the best of intentions asked if she could speak her concerns with about my children. She was concerned my minor children were too codependent. Yes, a lot of red flags in that sentence. As she expressed her concerns and me wanting to live up to the challenge of the “Dare” I let her know I believed she meant well, but it was not her place, pierced my husbands soul with a look of disapproval as I walked out the door and told we would talk about it later when I got back, calm, and collected.
My husband and I were best friends for many years before we started dating and got married, which did not help our romantic relationship as much as we hoped it would. As we became more intimate we were confronted with our cultural differences of raising children in an Anglo Saxon home versus a Mexican household. At the time, he and his family expected for children to grow and go by the time they are 18. Latino culture is typically multiple generations under one roof and as long as you are contributing nothing more is expected. Neither is right and neither is wrong, it is simply cultural differences.
Before I get into this further let me state a couple of disclaimers up front. Parenting is not a one size fits all and as a newly empty nester this message is about what was learned. I learned some of these principles through failure while others succeeded. There are many biblical truths mentioned throughout this experience that still require grappling with. But 100% of all the lessons learned and applied were out of a place of unconditional love with the best interest of my children and always pointing them back to a life lived in relationship with Jesus Christ.
Context – Preparing a home
Right to Traditional Marriage = Marriage between one man and one woman (Ephesians 5:22-33)
As parents many of us have been asked what we think is the best parenting advice we can offer, to which I would answer marrying an equally yoked spouse. A Godly husband makes for a Godly father. Having a healthy Christ centered monogamous marriage between one man and one woman is the best parenting advice I can offer. It answers all questions of when, where, what, why, and how of our identity.
When – in the beginning and at creation. (Genesis 1:27)
Where – in the garden of Eden and on the Earth. (Genesis 1:1)
What – Imago Dei (“image of God”), we are His workmanship fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in the womb. (Solomon 2:23, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139:13-18)
Why – for His glory and to be in relation with the triune God (1 Corinthians 10:31, Philippians 2:10-11, 2 Corinthians 13:14, John 1:10-13)
How – from the dust and the rib with the breath of God breathed through our nostrils. (Genesis 2:7)
The “What” listed above is one of the many areas I failed. My one child believed the lies teachers and peers would say. In the early year’s speech was difficult for this child, but what adults failed to see, including myself, was that this child was definitely listening. There was a time this child sat in the midst of elders and professionals whom we met with on a regular basis and when this child was asked to weigh in, the question that followed was, “Am I stupid?” This child was listening to discussions about education concerns with regard to their education. However, what this child saw wasn’t caring adults, but rather adults believing a child lacked listening skills and understanding simply because of their youth and hindered speech. Some youths have greater wisdom than many adults I’ve encountered. As a result of this experience as the child grew older they learned the lie that people, other than the individual, decided their identity, their education, their intelligence, or lack thereof, and what others thought they needed. With the ever growing social media influences this lie grew into something this child needed to unlearn and eventually did, but not until they stopped eating, began cutting, and had a failed suicide attempt.
Where was God in this? In the small details and people He weaved into the life of my child. This child attended a charter school heavily influenced by middle eastern customs and teachers who genuinely cared about the safety and wellbeing of your children. A specific teacher noticed my thinning tired child and became increasingly concerned. This teacher informed the principal of her concerns and another teacher had knowledge of who attended the same church as my child. A community of teachers, a school, a church, and a single mom loved my child with the love of Jesus Christ and my child’s own biblical upbringing provided the way out. My child accredits the following verse as the verse that saved his life
New International Version
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
The Importance of Christ Centered Marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33)
One of my children and I were visiting a friend who is in the habit of reading a lot on Christ centered marriages and the roles of God fearing husbands and wives within the context of the sanctity of marriage. This friend was acutely aware of my unemployed, school refusing adult child living at home. As this child searched for sympathy from my friend she dished out the truth and made it abundantly clear to my adult child that they had failed to launch and to me that it was right for my husband to desire me for himself. I struggle with this daily because apart from God I have loved my children, as a single parent, on my own, for a very long time, and for a very long time it was just us three. Putting my husband first is a difficult concept for me because he is not my children’s biological father. Even so the truth still remains that I will spend more time with him in this lifetime than with my children. They will start their own families and careers. My husband will be my future and I want to give my children an example of what a Christ centered marriage looks like and that the God we serve is a God of second, third, fourth, and on and on chances.
Training Ground & The Battlefield
Train a child in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
As parents we should set clear and concise expectations at an early age and reiterate them throughout the lives of our children until we’re blue in the face. Expectations such as chores teach both responsibility and ownership. Expectations of allowance being separated into categories of savings, spending, and tithing teach good financial principals. Regularly discussing post high school education expectations for continuing education, a trade, employment opportunities, etc. and what continuing to live in our home will look like at that time. – I did an epic fail in this area.
Like many in my generation we were taught to idol the emotional side of our beings and as a result we over psychoanalyzed our children creating an attitude of entitlement and then feeling sorry for the wrong we caused. We then fooled ourselves into thinking this was a valid reason to enable our children and become helicopter parents.
Staying the Course
Consistency is the Golden Rule Matthew 7:12
Children will do what you do not what you say. Are you the example of what you’d like your children to become? Titus 2:7-8 ESV Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
By the time I got this principle through my thick skull my children were well advanced in their teenage years. It took the submission and obedience to Jesus Christ along with marrying a Christ centered man to get here. My husband’s support helped light and pave that narrow path and my Comforter will help me stay the course.
Make sure your responses are decisive as outlined in Matthew 5:37 ESV / 116 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ anything more than this comes from evil. This is where you should not have to repeat yourselves too many times once having learned to do this.
When my children were toddlers and we entered a store they quickly learned to ask “Mommy, you have monies?” I only needed to answer once yes or no. If no, that was usually the end of the discussion. If yes, they would then ask, “How much.” Sometimes it was just a $1 for each and on the rare occasion it was $10 or $20 for each. This was effective until they reached about age 14 where they began to understand why I could or couldn’t and learned not to ask at all. Instead they learned to wait until I offered. – This is where I succeeded or so I thought.
To Be Continued…