christian kids

Why I Don’t Want Christian Kids

christian kids 

The transition into the role of motherhood was not any easy one for me. To be quite honest, I remember feeling panicked and overwhelmed that I was responsible for this little life. The “honeymoon” phase of motherhood was short-lived for me in those first weeks. Since the age of twelve, I babysat, changed diapers, fed spoonfuls of glorified orange and green slime to unsuspecting babies, been pooped on, thrown up on, played dress-up, and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” a dozen times. The job offered the assurance of a declared beginning, end, and dollar amount confirming I had worked hard those few hours.  Suddenly, I realized this was an ongoing job and there would be no sweet hospital nurse to take my crying baby in the middle of the night. Knowledge that there was no definitive end to the chaos began to suffocate me. There had to be an explanation for this inescapable feeling: maybe the pain meds from my C-section? sleeplessness? fear of failing? unwillingness to accept help? guilt from lacking a grain of perspective? Whatever the real reason,  acceptance of this new role came over time.

That sweet baby of mine just turned 13 a few weeks ago and that whole time period is somewhat of a blur now. While parenting has been a roller coaster of transitions including stages of unfamiliar territory, I can say with full confidence that I was meant to be a mom. The instruction manual that I desperately wanted in the beginning has yet to appear, so tossing my hands up in the air and begging God for wisdom has had to suffice.

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Everyday my husband and I are faced with this unique job to shepherd, train, influence, and teach our 3 girls. While we are grateful that our children have all verbally committed their lives to Christ, we realize that their spiritual journey is just beginning. And at the risk of sounding a bit heretical, I need to say we don’t want Christian kids…at least not the version that seems to have lost meaning over time…the version that says a prayer, offers a membership card into Heaven, but still continues to offer a life under the authority of what feels right by the world’s standards. We want a spiritually formed child whose life is on course to follow Christ and grow in their knowledge of the One True God. But we don’t believe sheltering them from everything in the world is the solution either.

What we hope for is an obvious contrast in the way we live in our home.

 

I have seen myself struggle enough to know that I have justified areas and weaseled myself out of a contrite heart.

 

Perhaps the most convicting part of this desire is the reality that the distinction starts with me. The old parenting adage to “do as I say, not as I do” has to be the worst idiom. Yet, I have seen myself struggle enough to know that while I may not endorse this statement, I have justified areas and weaseled myself out of a contrite heart.

Are there areas in your own life where your actions give permissions that your mouth never would?

If I want my girls to learn how to apologize to one another and be forgiving, then they need to see a mom that takes responsibility for my actions and apologize as well. If I want girls who understand the importance of modesty in how they dress, I must choose to model that well in my own life. If I want the words they say to be “pleasing in the sight of God and edifying” (Psalm 19:14, Ephesians 4:29) then I need to shore up areas where my big mouth gets me in trouble (conversations with friends, my joking, in how I respond to something that makes me mad). If I want girls who hear a catchy song and know when to turn it off, me and my pop-song loving self needs to shut it off too. If I want kids that are learning to self regulate their screen time, then I need to self regulate as well. The list could go on and on. My point is this: this world wants to push its way through like a big bully and parent my kids. Whether blatant or with its sneaky subtleties, the world wants to appeal to my kids temptations and curiosity. While everything in me screams against that, I know that at times my own actions and justifications communicate otherwise.

 

Are there areas in your own life where your actions give permissions that your mouth never would?

 

Being a perfect parent will not happen this side of Heaven. But that does not deter me from growing in an area that has lost its way in a morally starved society. My desire is to have a heart submitted to the One who is perfect and affect everything around me because of it. The legalistic tendency in me would be to micromanage every little thing in their lives and rigorously edit an ongoing list of do’s and don’ts. And I do know there is a definitive season where we have to establish rules so that 2 year olds don’t put their hands on hot stoves, run around with sharp objects, or eat candy for breakfast. But as they begin to grow in their independence, I want home to be the place where discernment training takes place and the decision to abstain from certain things becomes obvious.

A few days ago, my 13-year-old began to share with me the struggle to maintain her convictions when others may not share her same perspective. She explained to me a conversation that ended in her saying, “because I’m not allowed.” Now while I am okay being “the bad guy” in her life when faced with moments of not knowing how to respond, I gently began to ask her for a different consideration. What I did not do was say, “next time you need to do __________.” I simply asked her to begin thinking about what it would look like to speak from a heart that doesn’t just follow a rule, but knows deep inside what God wants of her in that moment. Gentle prodding, not overbearing demands. We went on to discuss how easy it is to place the burden on another and sometimes the harder thing is to be obedient because of a choice to honor God.

These conversations, the shepherding, the intentionality, and begging God for help are exhausting at times. And I need you to hear that I don’t have it all figured out. But what is stirring in my heart and what God’s inaudible voice keeps shouting is to spiritually form these vulnerable, young hearts. Teach them, mold them, and invest in them…because some day they will be leading the next generation in a world that beckons for their affections.

 

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Copyright: prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo


Michele Slayden

About

Michele Slayden lives in Clovis, but is a native Texan (with the accent to prove it!) She currently works as the bookkeeper for her husband’s non-profit, Off The Front, which reaches underprivileged kids in the Fresno/Clovis area. She is a dedicated wife and mom to three girls, Madison, Cali, and Ella. God has brought her through many challenges but none of which she would trade for anything. She loves investing in others and watching them grow in their understanding of The One True God. Michele loves coffee and great conversation, spending time with family and friends, cycling, reading, writing, and laughing!


  • Beth Nicoletto

    Michele,

    This is a pretty bold title! At first I wasn’t sure about it, but the more I thought about it, and the way that you explain herself, I don’t want “christian” kids either (by today’s standards). Unfortunately the term “christian” has lost a lot of its credibility and it’s up to us to remedy that in/for the next generation. I want kids who follow, display, and evangelize Christ. I want them to practice what they (hopefully) preach. I want the same for my kids that you said you want for your kids, and by raising them in that manner, my hope (and I think your point) is that we can change the current Christian stereotype of saying one thing but doing another. Provocative, but well done :)

  • Darlene Hanson

    Well done . . . and a good reminder even for grandparents who also influence their grandkids. Modeling a heart that is truly submitted and Biblically formed to the One who will affect change in our lives spills out into every area and molds our influence! Thanks Michelle!

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