“Why does this upset you so much?” This was the question asked me by my husband after my rant that likely went on for a minute… or five. He had a look of mild amusement as he tends to enjoy it when I am upset. He’s not being unkind, it’s just that I don’t tend to get rattled often, so when I do, he finds it kind of amusing and a bit attractive. His amusement rarely amuses me.
The catalyst for my latest rant was a doctor’s appointment I had attended that afternoon with my son. My son and this doctor had never met so there was no prior relationship. The doctor had proceeded with his “review of systems” form, asking my son about each body system and if he had any issues with anything. Then came the inevitable question of alcohol consumption.
“Do you consume any alcohol?”
“Okay. Do you smoke?”
(Then comes the first look of doubt.)
“Are you sexually active?”
(Just the question a young man wants to answer in front of his mom.)
“Really? Would you be able to give a more honest answer if your mom stepped out?”
“I mean, no. It’s fine.”
“So you are not sexually active?”
(Another look of doubt directed at the both of us.)
I know the doctor didn’t believe that a young man of my son’s age could honestly answer no to all of those questions. I could see it on his face, and my son could, too. The difference between my son and me is my son didn’t care what the doctor thought, while I was completely frustrated, but it wasn’t the first time that this has happened with this or another of my kids. It is as if young people participating in those activities are the norm, and those who don’t are the anomaly. It’s just accepted that kids will be kids, and parents just hope they make it to adulthood without screwing up too badly. I cannot tell you the looks of pity I get those occasions when the subject comes up, and I say that my kids aren’t participating in those things.
“Okay, just go ahead and live in your little fantasy land, Stacey.”
I get angry at those people. I get angry because avoiding those pitfalls is hard. To stand strong in today’s society deserves more from people than their doubt and an assumption of guilt. Am I saying that it is not possible for my kids to fail in those areas? No.
They have made choices, and drawn lines in the sand that they do not intend to cross. But if they ever did cross those lines, there would be grace, forgiveness and restoration, but to presume sin upon people just because it has become expected isn’t acceptable.
It is possible to raise kids today that do not engage in those activities. It just is. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t just happen. As parents, we have to stay engaged with our kids, and involved in their lives. Talk to them. Know their friends. Care enough to say no sometimes. Raise the level of accountability. Ask questions. Require answers. Set boundaries. Show grace so that honesty is possible. Accept failure, but expect success.
Most importantly, lead them into a relationship with Jesus. Notice, I didn’t say, “Take them to church”. I’ve talked to hurting parents whose children have made serious mistakes, and they don’t understand what happened. “They know better. I’ve taken them to church their whole lives.”
Those parents are right. Their kids did know better. And there is obviously nothing wrong with taking your kids to church, but in the absence of any real relationship with the living God, their success in resisting temptations is low. Apart from a life that honors God and that strives to live according to His principles, moral failure is likely. Kids who desire to live a life that is pleasing to God will put His desires above their own. They will choose friends who do the same, and are committed to holding them accountable.
I’d like to say that our kids are in the place they are spiritually because Matthew and I are just that great. But the truth is we have always leaned heavily on our own parenting mentors, and on others who come alongside us to pour truth into our kids. If our kids cannot turn to the right or to the left without hearing someone speaking the truths of scripture into their lives, the likelihood that they will stay true to their convictions is much higher.
This issue upsets me so much because I feel like some parents throw in the towel too early. If we are going to surrender our kids to society, then society will do its number on them. God’s plan for our kids is greater than society’s plan. This world has nothing to offer them. If we don’t teach them that, then who will?
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6: 6-7