So I had Starbucks with my friend Leslie this morning, and we started talking about something that I wanted to think about further. We were discussing the kinds of traditions we desire for our future families and the ways we want to raise our children. I have thought some about this, and how I want to raise my children a little more counter cultural than most people in the U.S….
Obviously, I don’t know who I’m going to marry, or if I will get married, but since this is based on having children and that requires a second party, I’m going to pursue the hypothetical and say that I did marry someone that enjoys thinking outside of the box like I do. If I could raise my children completely “my way”…this is how I would do it.
Christmas would look very different. We would celebrate the season of Advent together, talking about the significance of all the activities that went on during the birth of Christ in a longer time frame than just the week of Christmas. The other big focus (which I kind of got this idea from a caller on K-LOVE) is that each member of the family would have a night that was theirs and they could choose what service project the family would do together. Maybe little Josie wants to make cookies for our neighbor. We would make the cookies and decorate them together. Maybe Hezekiah (which I would not name my child this) would like to serve in a soup kitchen or go to a nursing home and spend time with the residents, etc. We would do that together as a family. We would not receive any gifts, but spend the season together building memories and giving to those around us.
I really want to teach my children that “stuff” is not important. I want them to grow to see how they can use the gifts that they have been given to be a blessing in the world, and how to love and grow in our family and community. I want them to sharpen the skills and interests that they have. I want the focus to be on becoming who we were meant to be, not passing the time and waiting to grow up. I think so many kids spend so many hours in front of the TV watching cartoons and shows, and though as a babysitter I am thankful for movies, I want my kids to grow up being active in the world and believing that they can truly make a difference.
Maybe I’m weird, but I would be completely open to not even owning a TV. This sounds so strange, because I own so many movies, but as I have been refocusing my life during this Lent time, I have seen so much how I have fallen in love with life away from watching movies. I have discovered things that I love to do, skills that I have, and ways that I can serve God and connect with Him. I want my kids to grow up outside, learning about God’s creation and maintaining a child-like wonder at the beauty of God. I want to give them opportunities to be creative and to think big. I want them to dream, to fall in love with God’s dreams, and make them happen.
This little essay is so disorganized because I am just writing as I am thinking. Since I have not watched movies or TV, I have enjoyed life so much more. I have discovered things that I would so much rather do with my time. I love photography and trying to capture in just a small way the beauty of God. I love writing and sharing the things that God is teaching me. I love sitting by the lakeside and watching the ducks swim in the water. I love relaxing on the dock and watching the sun set over the railroad tracks and see the colors reflect off the water. I love sitting in the dark and looking at the moon and listening for the gentle whisper of God. I want my kids to know what it’s like to live life like this. I want them to see my love and passion for God in the way I live my life. I also don’t want them to fall into the trap that they need to be busy every second of every day to make their lives matter. The most important thing we could ever learn is how to just “be” in God’s presence, and spending time with Him is a more valuable way to spend our time then constantly moving up the ladder to be successful.
I think sometimes too as parents, we (I say we even though I don’t have kids) tend to move toward what is easy, because life is hard and exhausting and when we have a full-time job, all we want to do when we get home is collapse. I truly believe though, and I want to live this with my life, that when I have kids, to see them as a gift from God, and that He is entrusting me with these little “people” to not only teach them how to live, but also how to become who God created them to be. Every child is born with a unique personality and a unique set of gifts. I see in so many ways how I am so different from my parents. Sometimes I wonder how that happens. However, I want to give my children the freedom to discover what they love, to sharpen their talents, and to find their place in the world. I want to raise them to have responsibility and maturity, but not impose my own ideas about who they should become. If my kid does not like bowling, then I will not make them bowl. If they really like acting, then I will help them find ways to be in drama clubs and plays. I’m probably just talking off the wall, but this is my blog, so I guess I’m allowed to. You can stop reading anytime you want to.
Most of all, I want to teach my children the value of falling in love with God. I don’t want to simply train them to go to church on Sundays. I want to show through my life how to live in relationship with Him, to be obedient to Him, how to hear His voice and follow His leading. I want to teach them how to be leaders if that is their gift, or how to serve God behind the scenes if that is who they were made to be. Through any activity that we do as a family, I want to show them that they are not only a valuable part of our family, but also a valuable part of the Kingdom of God, and even as a young child, they have a place in His family.
Ok…that’s the end of my ranting. Just some very disorganized and interesting thoughts I’m having today.