Sunday, July 26, 2009

Raising Discerning Kids in an Undiscerning World

This is what has been on my mind of late.
How do Stacy and I teach our children to be spiritually, morally, even on a level of basic common sense, discerning, in this world that is filled with "Me. Me. Me."?
At times I am overwhelmed with this task.
As a Mom that also homeschools, I am left with a huge responsibility towards my kids on many levels. I am 100% positive that this is where God wants our family right now, and I look forward to attacking this coming school year with a new fire and increased discipline in my own life.
However, the older my kids get, the heavier the weight is becoming for the directions I still need to steer them in.

I have always been a big proponent of the "First 5 years". I believe that those years are foundational to a childs grasp on many things. Obviously there are the basics, learn to walk, talk, eat with a spoon, etc... but there are the areas that prove more effort on the parents part, like discipline, spiritual introductions, manners, etc.
I enjoyed the first 5 years of my childrens lives. I enjoyed seeing them learn and understand and grow. Progress was easily measurable in many ways, and things were a little more cut and dry. More black and white if you will.

But now, we have what I will call "The next 5 years". My kids are 9 & 7 now, so I guess we are in the middle of childhood. I feel the weight of these 5 years differently than I did the first 5. I look around me and I see the forces trying to suck my kids in. I see the world marketing all it has to offer to my 9 & 7 year olds. I see the church (as a whole) trying to entertain my kids and lull them into a false sense of spirituality.
Basically, I see a lot of things being thrown at my kids, that they have to learn to discern whether it has merit and is favorable in God's eyes, or not. The lines of black and white are being sketched more into gray, with some shadows of blue, maybe a little green thrown into the mix, and some red for a "POP".

I have been convicted lately about personal discernment. First of all, am I discerning the world, (and this includes the church) and my response to it, through the lens of Scripture? Am I teaching my kids to do the same thing? How do I teach my kids to do this? How do I teach them to examine their hearts, to measure things by the Gospel?
I will be the first to admit, its not always easy. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes energy, it takes discipline. This area of discernment is not an issue you just visit once or twice and move on. It is constant. It is everywhere. It begins with me. Ouch. That hurts sometimes.

I have to be honest and say that sometimes I tell my kids "Just go watch TV.", and then I don't take the time to see what they are watching. I mean obviously I know they are watching Disney Channel or Nickolodean, but I don't know what show they are watching.
Wow, shame on me for letting Disney and Nick discern for my kids what is appropriate to watch. I was ashamed of myself when I saw that the show my 7 year old daughter was watching, showed a teenage girl in her teenage boys bedroom, alone and kissing. It was "harmless" by the worlds standards, but what about through Gods standards, and what should be my standards.
Tomorrow I will be going to the "Charter" office, and we are getting rid of our cable.
Extreme? Maybe. Necessary at this point in our lives. Yes.
But there's a kicker. I'm not just cancelling cable and leaving it at that. We will talk, at length I'm sure, about the "harmless" things we watch and about the standards that God has laid out for us.

Here's the thing though. I can cancel our cable and get rid of the Disney Channel, but that does not solve our problem. The problem with raising discerning kids in an undiscerning world has crept into the church. Our kids are being raised in a media savvy culture, and that hasn't been left in the church parking lot. I am NOT in anyway against technology, media, lights, the band, etc. I am not against these things in our church buildings. What I am against is the churchs competition to be as good or better, than the "world" in these things, without any discernment and clarity of the Gospel.
I don't believe that we need to sit on hard wooden pews, and have an all day hymn service, and wear our long skirts. But I wonder what we are teaching our children when they have to be entertained every single second they are on church property. Its a hard line. I work with kids enough to know that. I don't know the answer either. I'm a VBS director for crying out loud, and VBS is about FUN! I'm all for fun, without compromise.
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." If I am not ashamed, then I don't need to compromise it either.
Do I think we compromise the Gospel with bright lights, and loud music, and engaging speakers?
Not necessarily. But I do think we can. And I think in many cases we do.

And this is where I start to feel the overwhelming responsibility as a Christian Mother, trying to raise discerning kids. In light of recent experiences and discussions with my 9 year old, I am newly reminded of my responsibility in helping him work through issues that the church has helped to confuse. I'm realizing more and more that this same child needs me to help him talk things out, and through these talks, he is learning to be a more discerning believer.
I can tell you that we still have a long way to go, but I am encouraged that God is working in his life to give him the desire to be a more discerning young believer. Whether he realizes thats what is going on or not.
But WOW! What a responsibility I have as a parent to discern for my kids so that they can learn to discern!
It kind of boggles the mind doesn't it?

I desperately want to raise Godly children. I am thankful for other parents God has placed in my life that want the same for their kids. I am thankful for Godly influences in my kids lives. People that are willing to invest themselves and live out the Gospel and further the kingdom of Christ in this young generation.
I pray that we all strive towards being discerning parents in an undiscerning world and that we might help our children do the same.


Amber said...

wow Missy, thanks for the sermon. Very needed. I love you friend!

Alf Nelson said...

thanks for sharing your heart.

Alf Nelson said...

It is actually allison, not alf:)

Stace' said...

I think this very well may be your best post. WOW!!

That'll preach!

Testify girl.

Timothy said...

Yesterday the boys and I talked about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. I learned a lot from them. :)

I think the key to discernment is the Holy Spirit. The one who sees all and knows all and will reveal all if we listen. Passing on discernment is a process of gaining it yourself, keeping your children close as you walk along the way, talking about things constantly, and explaining to them when you were wrong and letting them watch you remedy the situation.