March 4, 2018

Modern Parenting And the Winter Olympics

I didn’t watch the Winter Olympics.  Love the summer games, but the winter games leave me, ahem, cold. But I gotta say there’s something about that crazy event curling that even gets me watching.

You know the sport? I’m not sure why it’s a thing, but somehow you can represent your country at it.

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I can’t be bothered trying to explain it, so here’s Wiki’s effort:

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And doesn’t that just look like modern parenting!  We used to call it Helicopter parenting, but after watching a few curling videos I’m convinced it’s more like the Olympic sport than ever.

Helicopters hover serenely over the landscape, seeing all with a birds-eye view that takes the frantic out of it.  It’s big picture stuff.

Curling on the other hand? It’s all micro-management and frantic scrubbing of anything that might cause just that one little bump in order to arrive at the goal.

Result? Two busy, frantic parents, scrubbing the pathway in front of their child, to “achieve the desired result”. Check out this curling videos and try to shake that image out of your mind.

None of this is to say, of course, that we should not take care of our children.  None of it is to say that we should ignore them instead, especially not if that is to simply further our own careers or advancement or whatever.

But it is to say that we somehow have to lose the frantic.  Christian parents especially.  The Scripture tells us to raise our children in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.”

But to do so will mean that we will be less frantic.  Less worried about eking out every experience for our children for that desired result aka, the good life and meaningful career that the university ads promise.

So we should be less concerned that if we don’t do such and such an activity and keep them on the endless cycle of “finding out what they’re good at” (as opposed to what they just might like to do?), then they will fail to reach the “good life” that is the telos of our modern West.

Of course all of that simply fills a vacuum created by a lack of clear direction set by parents themselves. There’s a withered heresy of the “fear and admonition of the Lord”, and it’s the fear of man and admonition of a secular world that many Christian parents want to avoid.

Many feel the strain, and succumb to it; ensuring their kids are on par with all of the others, especially in terms of the number of activities, the right sorts of foods in lunch boxes.

There’s a Christianised version of that heresy too, which church will cater to, ensuring that it becomes a spiritual blind spot. It works this way: churches offer first and foremost a brand that will appeal to the kids and the youth, because “that’s the future of the church”.

So which the church want to attend; what the programs are like; what kids attend who your kids already know: these are the decisions parents are herded into making, rather than the determining the place that is spiritually the most healthy, provides good solid supports, whether or not they’re the latest thing around.

A good church will provide the disciplines and discipleships for parents themselves to raise godly offspring.  Outsourcing may work for Telcos, but it makes for a lousy Christian parenting strategy.   Parents must take a deep breath and  refuse to be kid-centric.  Churches must take a deep breath, risk losing some of the parents who disagree and put their time and resources into wean parents off that unhelpful framework.

In a sense kids of Christian parents should have a bit more white space in their lives, because parents refuse to do “the frantic”.  And some of that white space should be filled with stuff that other kids never consider. And a good deal of that should be spending time with the family of God, modelling parental relationships and being modelled to by other parents.

My daughter’s friends often remark about how many early twenty-somethings she knows; or how she has been to so many weddings of young people.  Most of them don’t mix with that aged cohort.

And the reason is that so many of that age cohort in church – the group just beyond my daughter’s age – take an interest in her for the gospel’s sake. They spend time with her, help disciple her, and genuinely want to guide her along the way. When my sixteen year old is hanging out with twenty two year olds I’m pretty much not worried that they’re getting her drunk at parties.

An aside to the twenty-somethings: Why not break the habit of a young lifetime and look out for those younger people in your church and seek to engage them with your lives, not simply because you have to at youth group, but because you get to as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I know that Jill and I can get frantic about parenting, and with a son who has not bonded as well into his new school as we’d thought, I’m right on the verge of grabbing that brush and doing some curling myself.   But it’s warmed our hearts to see other people take an interest in him too, including the young couples who just get alongside him and chat him through this stuff.

I too need to remember that the goal of our parenting is not to ensure that our kids get “the good life” that is falsely promised by the culture.  The goal of our parenting is that my children seen through the false promises, and see to the promise of the great life in Christ that begins now and will continue forever.



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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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