Today my dear friend and sista in Christ, Pastor Deanna Shrodes wrote a post on her blog, "Lifetime Intimate Portrait" titled,"You Raise Your Kids and Let Me Raise Mine..." It struck a cord with me in a mighty way. I have had many occasion where a stranger, acquaintance or even family has told me what I was doing wrong or needed to do differently as a parent with each of my kids...specially with my special little guy Kristofer, who is autistic. Well Pastor Deanna said everything I have wanted to say in a way that to the point! So sit back and enjoy this post!
You raise your kids and let me raise mine...
Recently I've experienced something I want to talk about here on the blog and just say it like it is and be done with it. I'm sick of people trying to insinuate how others should raise their kids. I'm not exactly new at this. I've raised one son to 19 years old who is a wonderful young man of God. No, he's not perfect but in my eyes he's darn close. :-) My point is, my children are not going to hell in a handbasket and I didn't start parenting yesterday. I'm not perfect by any stretch, but on the other hand I am not clueless. One thing that I reallllllly hate are holier than thou condescending attitudes when it comes to parenting. The spirit of slap wants to come upon me many times, I must confess.
I'll say first and foremost this isn't happening with anyone (that I know of!) in our church so it's one reason I'm just openly speaking my mind on this. If it were someone in our church Larry would have asked me to have some restraint. Who knows he might ask me to have some restraint after he reads this anyway? But lately I've had a few people question my choices as a parent and I have to admit it made me just a lih-tle uncomfortable!
Have you ever had someone condescendingly ask you why you are letting your kids watch certain TV shows or movies?Do you have others ask why you are feeding them certain foods without a lot of rules/restraint? (i.e., cookies, pizza, etc.)Are there those who ask why you are allowing them to have certain drinks without a lot of limits? (i.e. coffee, soda)Do people question why you are allowing them to participate in certain activities? (school prom, trick or treating, etc.) How about people asking why you allow them to have a cell phone, or to date?
I do not mind it when someone honestly asks my advice on a matter. It's fine to ask about our household policies or what I have personally found as wisdom for my particular children or family. But I don't believe we are cookie cutters -- I think what works for my child may not work for yours. God speaks to us personally about finding the key to our child's heart and raising each one. In the same way, what is acceptable for my family may not be acceptable for others, and that is fine. For instance, your son may have a very bad reaction to koolaid or soda...mine may not. So don't judge me if I allow mine to have it and I won't judge you that you don't allow yours to have it. Let's parent as the Lord leads us to and not make announcements or judgments about how we do it.
In the last month a few people have criticized me about what I allow my children to do, or what I do with them. There's a lady who works with my eldest son at the movie theater who is a member of another AG church. The other night she saw me come into the movie theater with my daughter. I was excited to come back from Africa and take her on a mom/daughter outing. This woman (who works in the concession stand there) told Dustin that she saw us come in and go to the movie and she felt it was very inappropriate that I was taking my daughter to this PG movie. She made a big deal about it and basically told Dustin she felt it was a sin what we were doing.
I know some Christians still don't believe in going to the movies. Well, I am not one of them. I am not going to criticize somebody else because they don't go, but please keep your comments to yourself that I do. I was raised in an atmosphere where we were never allowed to go to the movies and trust me, it did absolutely nothing for us as far as keeping us from sin. We were no more holy because we didn't go to theaters. In fact many of the kids I grew up with in the church ARE going to hell in a handbasket. It's unfortunate and actually tragic. What drove them away to this horrible backslidden state many are in? Maybe it was all these silly rules that were nothing but a bunch of legalism. I believe it's these sort of attitudes (being told that if Jesus came back while we were in a movie theater he wouldn't be able to find us...HOW STUPID!) that pushed people further away from God and the church than closer to them. I came to realize that Jesus can find us whether we are in a movie theatre, wearing pants or makeup, or drinking a cup of coffee. If somebody's Jesus isn't enough to find them through all that, they aren't serving the same powerful Jesus I am.All I can say to that is, I hope that lady definitely decides to stay in her other AG church, thank you very much! It really was none of her business, quite truthfully, what I was taking my daughter to see.
Two other people asked me about things of the same nature recently, with a very condescending attitude.Make no mistake, Jesus is coming back! He will find me no matter where I am because I am His child. He will take me to heaven whether I am in church, in a movie theater, or cooking supper. If He holds off a little longer on coming back, I really cannot wait to see what some people's kids turn out to be like. Will all this super protection and forsaking of soda and movies with any kind of "worldly" theme (in some people's eyes) produce perfect children? In my experience, people with very rigid rules for the sake of rules tend to produce kids who are kind of unbalanced later in life and can sometimes really go bonkers. In fact, it's interesting Dustin just told me today that the son of the lady he works with absolutely hates her. And he said, "you know Mom, I think if she were my Mom I would struggle with that too." Interesting. One thing I have always heard is, "rules without relationship lead to rebellion." I also believe rules without a sensible reason lead to rebellion.
When I was a child, I loved coffee and sometimes at church fellowships I would try to sneak a cup. The adults never let us kids drink it because they said it would "stunt our growth." Coffee drinking by kids was strictly forbidden, like it was whiskey or something. I now know that's a load of bunk. Savanna has been drinking coffee with me for YEARS. In fact her Grandpa Shrodes got her started on it when she was just a baby. If you have ever seen my daughter in person you know she is tall. She has been the tallest child in her class every year and no one can ever believe she's is as young as she is when I tell them. So much for stunted growth. No, she does not drink coffee all the time, usually just here and there on special occasions, but we do not make a big deal of it because I believe there is no reason to.
My philosophy as a parent is that when I can say yes, I do -- because we do have to say no to enough things -- why not say yes to things when we can?As far as my eldest "child" - he is now the age his father was when we got married. He is a young adult - not a child anymore. He chooses his diet and his movies himself and I trust him to do so. My middle son is not far behind...he'll be 18 in three more months. And Savanna...well, she's eleven and I'm just sayin' to all the condescenders out there...you raise your kids, let me raise mine. Do me a favor and don't ask me with that snooty attitude why we are going to a certain movie or buying our 11 year old a latte.
If my kids are going to hate me, I want it to be because I said no to things that really mattered. I refuse to make a mountain out of a molehill with my kids and make an issue out of things that are small in light of eternity.
I think people have too much time on their hands. I have way too much to do to worry about what other people are feeding their kids or what movies they let them watch. My own household is all I can handle and it keeps me busy enough.
Me Again-Deanna you are such a great friend. Thank you for being so candid and honest!