Thursday, April 17, 2014

i am THAT parent...

[posting to the old blog site while the website is down and being worked on]

I think sometimes you're not entirely sure what kind of parent you'll be until you ARE that parent. Certainly, I knew from teaching both preschool and elementary school before I had kids the kind of parent I WOULDN'T be, but I often think it's not until you're right up on something that you realize what kind of parent you ARE.

Over the last few parenting seasons, I've realized that I'm THAT parent. You know the one. I'm the one parent whose kids aren't allowed to do what everyone else's kids can. I'm the one parent whose kids aren't seeing what everyone else's kids are seeing. I'm the parent whose kids aren't going where the other kids are going. I'm the parent who won't let them have the app that everyone's downloading, won't let them wear what everyone's wearing, won't let them respond the way everyone's responding...

For better or for worse, and unable to deny it any longer ... I'm that parent.

Just wondering though ... am I the only one?

Obviously with navigating the start of middle school, things are coming more front and center than ever before and the decisions have gone from, "Can I PLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE have that toy? Everyone else has one" to "Can i PLEEEAAAAAASSSSEEEEE have a twitter account, have Instagram, get an iPhone, wear this, do that? Everyone else has/is/did."

Our favorite phrase around here is: "others may, you may not." And though it's quite effective at getting the point across, it's not as effective at conveying the heart behind it. In recent weeks, I've found myself saying that phrase more and more. I've actually started asking myself a whole host of questions due to the regularity with which I'm saying "No" and they're saying, "Yes ma'am. But can i ask why?"

Some questions I ask myself often:

"Am I just an old fogey?"

"Is this what being a sheltered prude is like?"

"Are my children going to sit on a panel one day to talk about how abusively strict their parents were?"

"Why am I uneasy in my spirit about letting them do what they're asking to do?"

"Am I saying no just for the sake of not following the crowd?"

"Am I just digging my heels in on their growing up & therefore being unreasonable?"

"What is really all the way at the bottom of why I'm parenting them this way?"

I really don't want to fall into "because I said so" territory in my answering of my children's questions. I'm discovering that i desire to develop a real, tangible process for teaching/instructing/nurturing/shaping my children with my responses to their questions.

The fact is, I know the answers to all of their questions AND the ones I'm asking of myself. The fact also is that at the end of it all, I care more about who my children are going to become than who they are right now. Them thinking I'm cool for a moment isn't as important to me as them feeling protected and valued in the long run. I don't want them to like me temporarily, I want them to love me long term because they see the value in what/how/why we did what we did. I'm also realizing the value in being their PARENT before being their FRIEND. As a wise woman said to me yesterday ... "they can have tons of other friends ... I'm their only mom." Because she's got grown children now, she added with a sweet little smile: "But my daughter is my best friend now. It's really nice."

Whether I dig my heels in to try and slow it or not, it's a new day at the Scott house. I've got a middle schooler who is just as sweet as she can be. But she's finding out that she's not gonna get to do what everyone else is doing. I'm trying to utilize my words, my communication, my teaching instincts to communicate why. I have some ideas about why we're beginning to struggle with this, for sure...

1. Adolescence. This has a whole host of biological flux attached to it without even the first hint of outside influence. Physical changes, emotional changes, chemical changes ... it is what it is.

2. Culture. A good percentage of this culture is pretty literally on the fast-track to hell in a hand basket and it's closer than ever. I know, I know ... all generations have had their issues, but no culture in history has ever been more accessible to a child or teenager than it is today. It can literally crawl into bed with them at night thanks to handheld devices no bigger than a bar of soap.

3. Pressure. The immense pressure to grow and mature is being felt younger and younger. When i was in 6th grade ... good grief. I can't fathom knowing or having access to some of the things that Maggie hears daily. Yet, the pressure to grow and mature faster has had no impact on the fact that God intended for growing and maturation to happen a certain way and in certain timing. The fact that it's being forced down their throats earlier doesn't change the fact that they're not mentally, relationally or emotionally equipped to appropriately steward what's being handed to them. [Case and point: ever seen a 3rd grade boy with a handheld gaming device draw a reasonable line of self-control in regard to playing time? Ever watched a 6th grade girl with constant exposure to media and music NOT begin trying to dress, speak & act in a way that strives to keep up with what she's seen?] We all struggle with pressure, sure. But as adults, we have supposedly been given time to develop the tools and maturity to combat those pressures. Supposedly.

4. Identity Theft. I am watching an identity crisis of epic proportions occurring amongst children and teenagers (not to mention adults). The enemy is effectively stealing their God-given identities and he's using culture, media and relationships with others also in the throes of identity crisis to do it. Girls, boys ... his aim is to steal, kill and destroy. And it's working. ALL of us are at risk of losing our God-given identities if we aren't on constant guard. How much more our children?

There are other issues facing us as christian parents, for sure. But those are the big ones that I'm noticing. I'm on a quest. A quest to tell my children more than just "others may, but you may not" and instead follow up that statement with effective and easy to remember principles they can hold forever and use in making their own decisions in the future. I'm on a quest to develop tools, alternatives and aids to use in navigating this land mine littered parenting landscape. A quest to undergird and arm my children with their own weapons to use in defense of their identities and shields of truth to hold up against those fiery darts flaming with lies from the enemy.

Am I the only one who is THAT parent?

Am I the only one concerned about where the culture tide is taking us?

Am I the only one who wishes for the 50's and Leave It To Beaver on occasion?

Am I the only one who considers selling it all and moving to a desert island to live off the land and insulate these sweet lives from anything that would come against them?

Am I the only one who wants to learn (and be able to teach my children) what it really looks like to be IN the world but not OF it while keeping a heart to REACH it?
As I was wondering "is it just me?" the other day, I ran across a post from Ann Voskamp to her daughter,  with the following quote:
There are two of you, really. The Short-Term You —- and the Long-Term You. The Now-You — and the Becoming You. The Immediate You. And the Ultimate You. And if I only loved the right now Immediate You —- and let The Immediate You come and go and do whatever she wanted, whatever made her feel all the good things, whatever made her happiest, I wouldn’t be loving the Ultimate You.
I was SO encouraged by this and in my desire to really dive into this quest. I am setting my face toward all that God is stirring in my heart toward equipping children/teens/parents in my sphere of influence to raise world-impacting kids. Toward raising ULTIMATES, not immediates.
So as Maggie climbs into my car after school and I have the "you're not going...and here's why" conversation I've been dreading, I'll be keeping the ULTIMATE Maggie in view. I always want their ultimates in view as I parent their immediates.

Am I the only one?

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