Through out our marriage, Stephen and I have always talked about the concept of raising good kids. We didn’t necessarily aim to make them happy (though I liked it when they were happy), but we made decisions in parenting that would hopefully help them be good. Not only good when it comes to behavior, but good when it comes to character.
So what does a good kid look like? I suppose this could look different for every parent. As a Christian parent, I want my children to grow in their faith, and to live it out in a powerful way. I want them to be able to make good decisions when faced with the temptations of the world. I want my children to be able to love those that aren’t in the faith and to live as light in a dark world and bring hope to others. I want my children to have good character, to be honest, to live with mercy, grace, and humility. I want them to serve others and be compassionate. I want them to see a big world and to recognize their responsibility to care for the oppressed. I pray they become as beautiful on the inside as much as they are on the outside and I want them to have confidence. I also want success for my children and to see success as not what they do, but how they live. I want them to study, have a great career, and if they get married, I pray they marry amazing men of faith. I want my children to love Christ with all their heart, soul and mind. These are my dreams for my children.
So how do you raise a great kid? Isn’t this the question of most parents?
With three teenage girls, we are at the point in our lives that our kids can now make a lot of their own decisions. No longer do I have to convince them that candy at breakfast isn’t good for them, and they now know that tantrums in public (such as in Costco, Julia) are not effective. We no longer dress our children, and we let them make decisions on how to spend their time. Of course, here and there, we have to redirect them, like when they waste time in front of TV rather than getting their chores done, or they lash out at their sisters. But the biggest decisions they will make in life are yet to come.
How will they live in this world when they grow up?
In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as a parent is to try and control our kids. We can take life’s temptations out of their pathways. We can try and control who they date, how they date, what their dating looks like, what they wear, and who they hang out with, and what they are allowed to watch. We can isolate them from the world so they never have to be around anyone doing anything wrong. Yes, we as parents have tremendous power to control environments and assert our will into our children’s lives. However, if we make all the decisions for our children, how will they ever learn to make their own decisions? If they never have a chance to fail, how will they learn to succeed?
Stephen used an analogy of the military the other day. If the drill sergeant spends all their training time focused on the uniform, telling the soldier to keep it clean, making sure it looks perfect, making sure it never gets dirty, then how will the soldier handle the battle? To be in the battle requires getting the uniform dirty and preparing the body, mind and spirit for battle. Our children are faced with a battlefield everyday, but if we only focus on the uniform and them acting right and looking good, what is going to happen when we are not by their side anymore? Did we just make perfect-looking soldiers or did we make warriors?
Parenting teenagers requires the delicate process of helping children make good decisions, without making the decisions for them. At the same time, parenting also requires healthy boundaries and helping our children understand why we do have boundaries.
I’m so proud of my girls. I am proud at the decisions they are making, and trust me, when I don’t like their decisions, I am happy to share my opinion with them. My girls have given me every reason to be able to trust them and we talk very openly about a lot of stuff, and because I trust them, they trust me. They know that I am not going to judge them when they share with me their struggles. They know that I am not going to reject them if they make a mistake. My job is to equip them now to live in this world, to know what to do when surrounded by things that are outside of our values and beliefs.
As parents of teens, we can get uptight on a lot of stuff. Our culture is full of powerful influences that affect our children, and as much as I wish these things didn’t exist, they do exist. So the big question is how do we raise good kids in a messed up world?
We have a lot of friends in the business of trying to help people live well in a messed up world. Stephen, with his job, works with some of the most gifted youth workers in the nation, Christian musicians, evangelists, and leaders. We both have friends who are well known for their books on purity, on relationships, on parenting and walking the Christian life. These people have been major influencers on how we raise our children and I feel so honored that they have been apart of our lives. Bob Lenz is literally my daughter’s hero and one of her dearest mentors and friends. Rebecca St. James and her family have been dear friends and her family has been in our lives for a long time. Steve took Rebecca to India with Compassion when she was a teenager. She is now one of the most amazing Christian ladies we know. She preached on purity for years, and now seeing her happily married is truly a joy. My mother in law is a family counselor, my sister is a substance abuse counselor, my mom is a very wise woman, and we have a great youth pastor (and his wife Anna is awesome beyond) for our kids. We have been blessed by a community of people whom we trust and have been highly influential on our decisions with parenting.
Over the next few weeks, I have decided to tackle some of these battlefield subjects that parents and kids are faced with. I am going to go to my mentors, friends and family to dive in deep on some of these subjects where the battlefield exists for youth. With Julia going into her senior year then off to college, I want to equip her the best I can so together we are going to look at some of these issues.
Like dating – How do we as parents help our kids make good choices?
Culture – How do we help our kids cope in culture?
Friends – How do we help them be in healthy friendships?
Family – What do we do when our children go rogue or walk away from faith?
Faith – How do we help our children find their own faith, not just ours?
Drugs – Not just how to keep your kids off drugs, but how do we help our kids deal with peers involved in drugs?
I will still be blogging about other stuff, travel, my occasional dog posts (which by the way, Delilah is doing well with calcium supplements) but my year is focused on helping my oldest especially, prepare to fly out of the nest. Uggg…brings tears to my eyes to even imagine the day, but I want her to soar. I want to know I have done everything I could to
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
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