Category Archives: Creative Parenting

Blindspots

I know it’s a little cheesy to repost a repost but I was so impressed and convicted by the following article that I just had to share it here. It was originally written by Reb Bradley in the Virginia Home Educator Magazine, but I stumbled onto it while reading Joshua Harris’ blog. It is intended to address homeschooling parents (which my wife and I are) but I think it speaks well to any Christian parent regardless of their schooling choice. It’s also a little long but well worth the read. I especially appreciate Bradley’s personal humility and wisdom in all that he shares.

Exposing Major Blind Spots of Homeschoolers by Reb Bradley

In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were leaders. These parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn’t hold to their parents’ values.

Some of these young people grew up and left home in defiance of their parents. Others got married against their parents’ wishes, and still others got involved with drugs, alcohol, and immorality. I have even heard of several exemplary young men who no longer even believe in God. My own adult children have gone through struggles I never guessed they would face.

Most of these parents remain stunned by their children’s choices, because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion.

After several years of examining what went wrong in our own home and in the homes of so many conscientious parents, God has opened our eyes to a number of critical blind spots common to homeschoolers and other family-minded people.

1. Having Self-Centered Dreams

The reason that our dreams for our children are so vulnerable to crashing is because they are our dreams, imposed on our own children. As homeschool parents we make great sacrifices and invest a great deal to influence how our children turn out. The problem is that love for children can be lost in love for personal success as a parent. Our concern for ourselves ends up overshadowing our love for our children.

When my oldest son was 18 he developed habits of disrespectful communication and I had to ask him to leave my home for a season. Needless to say, my wife and I were devastated by the discipline we imposed. In the first month he was gone we wept each day for him. We were grieved that he was now unprotected from the junk from which we had worked so hard to shelter him, but more than that, I was heartbroken that my dreams for him and our family would no longer come true. I remember speaking the words to him – “Son, you’ve ruined my dreams.” You see, I had a dream for my family and it involved adult children who lived at home humbly under parental authority, and who would one day leave home to marry, after following my carefully orchestrated courtship process. But now, my son had gone and “messed up” my perfect dream. Nothing is wrong with dreaming of good things for your children, but the truth was, my dream for my son was mostly about me.

In hindsight, what was particularly grievous was that I was more worried about the failure of my dream of “success” than the fact that my son and I had a broken relationship. Although he did come back and was restored to us 4 months later, it still took me years to realize that I had contributed to the damaged relationship.

It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children. However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of us, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance. When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship.

2. Raising Family as an Idol

When we allow the success of our family to determine our security or sense of wellbeing we are seeking from it something God intends us to receive from Him. I am describing idolatry. If homeschoolers are not careful, family can easily become an idol.

At times in their history the Israelites worshipped idols. They didn’t always forsake worship of the living God – they merely served other gods with Him. Sometimes they simply made an idol of something good. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they elevated issues of holiness higher than the very God who declared them holy (Mat 12:1-8; 23:24). An idol is anything other than God in which we seek security and fulfillment. It may be something biblical or good, but if it has the power to determine our wellbeing, we have elevated it higher than God meant for us. As those who are devoted to our families, and therefore invest a great deal of time, energy, and heart, it is easy to elevate the family too high.

A great problem with idolatry is that idols require sacrifice, and we end up sacrificing relationship with our children for the idol of the family. When we elevate the image of the family, we effectively trade our children’s hearts for our reputation.

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While I’m Waiting

In my last entry, I mentioned that part of the purpose of waiting is so that the Lord can teach and sanctify me. One of the areas that this is happening is in my parenting. While I’m waiting, the Father has been challenging me to pay better attention to the unique personalities of each of my three children and to enjoy them for who they truly are. My wife, Sonia, is very good at this and one of the ways it shows is during birthday celebrations. Last week, we celebrated our son’s 9th birthday with a family dinner and rather than make it a Star Wars or Beyblade themed meal, she centered the party’s motif on Evan’s all-time favorite meat product: BACON. Yes, bacon. Evan looooves bacon. So, we cooked and consumed bacon fried rice, bacon-wrapped string beans and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. We even turned the healthiest dish on the table into a heart-attack-in-waiting by placing the salad in custom made bacon bowls. What games did we play after dinner? Pin the nose on the piggy and steal the bacon, of course. Our small family dinner was salty and smokin’ to say the least. It didn’t require a lot of money, just a lot of creative thought and intentional care. A bacon birthday may sound zany but I guarantee you that Evan will never forget this party. Not only because it included his favorite meat product but also because it showed that his mom knew him well and loved him dearly. While I’m waiting, I hope to become more like her. By God’s grace, I trust I will.

    

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Wave At The Bus

For 170 days, Dale Price had a unique morning ritual that began on his son’s first day of high school. Every morning when the sophomore youth caught the bus to school, his dad stood in front of their house and waved goodbye…in a costume. The father from suburban Utah has a prosthetic leg which was often incorporated into various ensembles. Price’s numerous disguises included being a fisherman, a football player, a blushing bride, the Little Mermaid, a pirate, Michael Jackson and countless others. While his son was horrified on the first day, by the end of the school year, he said it was quite “entertaining.” After reading an interview with the family, it seems like the father and son have a good relationship built on a great sense of humor. It may seem zany, but I find the year long commitment quite touching. The Price family chronicled the entire year in a blog called Wave At The Bus. Each day’s entry has a frontal picture of Dale in his costume but also a rear view picture of him waving to his son as the bus departed. Although it started off as a prank, in those pictures, I see the hints of a bittersweet struggle of a father who is learning to love a son who is growing in greater independence. The most influential time we have with our children is relatively short. We will spend the majority of our parental careers parenting adult children. So, while our children are still young and under our own household, enjoy them immensely and invest in them deeply. Be creative and keep a sense of humor. For before you know it, one day very soon, you too will find yourself “waving at the bus”.

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