The Talk

Something has been weighing on my mind lately. Between the stories that I hear on Facebook, from my wife’s social media adventures, and my own reading, this one topic keeps cropping up. For most parents, the thought of having to give “The Talk” is a source of anxiety and sometimes panic. To be honest, I would have to agree, but maybe not for the same reasons.

The talk I received began with a simple question on the way to school when I was in the 6th grade. It was a partly cloudy morning and the sun was making silver lines on the clouds as it rose. I asked a dictionary question, and got the encyclopedic answer. I also remember my eyes being stuck in a wide-open position and my friends wondering what was wrong with me. At that moment, I just needed some time to process. I don’t know if the talk I give later in life to my own child will be like that, but knowing myself, it probably will be similar.

“Hey, dad, what’s […]?”

“Come on over here and let’s talk about it…”

My thoughts have been about how the talk itself will have to change and evolve over the next few years. There are some things I’ll probably have to discuss with my future children that past generations may have never considered. Discussing sex itself has become less of an issue over the past few years, and the idea of having a discussion about biology and relationships doesn’t bother me much at all anymore. In fact, I think it would be an interesting experience.

No, what concerns me is the extra discussion I will have to have due to the changing lifestyles of the world around us. See, when most people, including myself, received the talk there was a simplicity to the discussion that made understanding easy. Now, in today’s world there are more “nuances” to the discussion in many houses.

Some parents are having to discuss gender expression to children who have chosen to dress and act like the other gender. Some parents are having to create a talk to discuss same-sex relationships and how to be safe and healthy. For many in the world, this is normal, even passe. But, within the Church, within the Christian bubble many of us live within, the thought may never have occurred.

Love is never a question, though, is it? All of the parents I know love their children unconditionally. They may not agree with them, and may have sharp clashes of opinion, but love is never in question.

So, parents, if you are not familiar with the definitions of sexuality in our current culture, I would recommend (carefully) researching some definitions. Words such as gender expression, transgender, sexual identity, and so on are quickly becoming common in our culture. Regardless of whether you believe these lifestyles are godly or not, you will more than likely have to answer questions about them, so be ready with an answer – in love, with gentleness, and the truth of Scripture.

(PS… There were some books I ran into for different ages about this subject when I went to a children’s ministry conference. I will add them up here as soon as I find the titles.)

Advertisements

Cruising

For Christmas, my wife and I were blessed with a fantastic cruise. We so enjoy the worry-free attitude on the ship: no chores, no cooking, no cleaning, and a full week of rest and refreshment to start off the year. Despite some relatively minor frustrations (looking back) of traffic and boarding delays, the week went wonderfully.

One of our favorite past times (which I got from my parents) is “people watching.” Sometimes we simply watch as people go about their lives, and other times we go to great lengths creating stories for why we think a person dresses or behaves a certain way. It can be a fun exercise in creative storytelling, and makes for an interesting hour or so.

One thing I noticed on the cruise was the persistence of entitlement that seemed to be everywhere. We took notice of fellow cruisers raising a fuss and getting angry at the smallest inconveniences. I saw the faces of servers and crew members fall as they realized the immensity of the cruisers’ ire. Several times I became angry at this treatment, resolving to try harder to be kind and graceful myself.

I begin to wonder, though, where this attitude originates. How high does a person’s expectations have to be before they lose all decorum and go on an angry rant because a vegetable snuck its way onto their dinner plate? Does it happen over time living in an affluent society, or does it begin at home?

I wonder if these people watched their parents throw similar fits in restaurants or other establishments. I wonder what would have changed had their parents modeled more graceful behavior at home and in public? Or maybe they saw their friends act this way, or picked it up at college?

Regardless, can we, in the church collectively decide and choose to model polite, graceful behavior to the children in our care? When something goes wrong, can our reaction be one of patience and forgiveness? Maybe we can turn this shocking trend around one family, one child at a time.

And for those of you already modeling this behavior, praise the Lord for you and what you do! Keep it up!

The Bar

There is an incredibly high bar for parenting for my generation. Supermoms and superdads seem to be at an all-time high, and they seem to have learned how to coordinate through a vast network called “Pinterest.” (Supermom/dad – n. – a parent with a high degree of time and/or skill to prepare crafts, snacks, costumes, parties, etc. for their children in an impressive manner) Considering that I’m around that time of life when a family will begin sooner rather than later, I’m honestly a little concerned. I guess I’m a little worried that my child will bring home a report card for me that says I need improvement in snack making or party planning.

Then I read this article. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/im-done-making-my-kids-childhood-magical_b_5062838.html

To be fair, I don’t agree with every statement in the article, but it was nice to hear a parent pause and question the status quo. A parent who stopped and admired her parents for making due on a limited budget and limited time.

I guess what I want to believe is that the bar isn’t set with Pinterest or mommy blogs, but rather by the culture one creates at home. For me it all comes back to the idea of being “present” rather than creating incredible experiences.

If you’re feeling the pressure as a parent, remember that God doesn’t ask for superparents, he asks for present parents. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a biblical model for parenting. And, I love it, because it encourages presence over anything else. Simply being there with your children is the most important thing. Sure, crafting experiences is good and can create memories, but being present throughout their lives means so much more.