Most of you know that I am a mother of nine children. Five girls and four boys (ages 5 – 18). We adopted seven children starting in 2005 and brought our last adopted child home in 2010 (yes we adopted seven children individually in five years!). They are my greatest blessing and they break my heart like nothing else in this world ever could. They cause me to think about everything and to do everything I can to be a better human, wife, and mother. They cause me to re-evaluate how I parent and to never think what I’m doing now is the best way and to keep being creative with how I/we handle their choices (good and bad).
Anyone who says being a parent in the year 2013 is simply not speaking the truth or has made the choice to be their child’s friend (we all know how well that works out). The challenges our children face are constantly before them. They have to be prepared for things I didn’t even think about until my early 20’s when I was truly out in the world alone.
TV shows have changed so much since we first had children, that we stopped paying for cable eight years ago. Our children have only seen regular commercials the three times they have been to the movies. Which I won’t be taking them to for a while (the previews are beyond ridiculous and so dumb that it is embarrassing to watch). Children are bombarded with inappropriate things on TV – overly violent shows, children being totally disrespectful to their parents/authority and constantly getting away with rude behavior, teenage boy/girl relationships, to gay relationships, to teens having babies (and it being OK), inappropriate clothing, being skinny is a must, being beautiful is the only way to be popular, being told it is good to want more things (expensive at that and the message is clear - it is the only way to be cool), and that sex before marriage is totally acceptable behavior. TV is nothing but a good dose of feeding the flesh – the lust of the eyes is endless on almost all of TV programming. TV programs today have desensitized an entire generation to violence and sex – it is normal to them because it is all they see and hear about each day. Think about the number of mass murders done by teens and college students in the last 10 years, and it doesn’t take a psychologist to realize our youth have been effected by their ever present social media lifestyle and choice of entertainment.
We are working diligently to make the wisest choices given the world our children will inherit over the next 10 years. We are not trying to leave our children unprepared for the world they will enter at 18. We are doing the exact opposite. We shield them from things that will not benefit them or help them until they are emotionally prepared to handle all that comes with the responsibility of knowing the truth about the world we live in. They learn the truth from us and we make sure they understand what choices they will be faced with as they begin to leave home. They also are told we will be here to help them navigate through any situation if they feel in over their heads.
We don’t give in or bend when we hear the ever popular remarks from our children, “so and so is allowed to do that, why can’t I?” Or, “everyone else watches TV, has a cellphone, has their own email, is on FB, etc., why can’t I?”
They already know the answer. It never changes. We won’t change our minds and nothing they can say will cause us to give in. There is no reason for them to watch shows that won’t add to them becoming better people and having a caring heart for others. There is no reason for them to be on social media and keeping up with the very people they see all day long at school. They will see them again tomorrow. They don’t need to post 100’s of silly photos of themselves that one day they might regret and others may misuse or embarrass them with. They don’t need to email anything that is every so important that we can’t help them take care of it. Nor do they need to carry a cell phone around with them when the only place they will be without us is school. Every school has a phone and every teacher (and sadly kid) has a phone they can use in case of a true emergency. They don’t need 100’s of strangers following their blog and trying to become their “friends” and getting to know things about them that quite honestly no one really needs to know. Especially with how dangerous that can be in the world we live in and how it opens the door for anyone to play against their sensitivities and weaknesses. They are not wise enough to know how is real and good vs fake and evil. It is not their job to have that sort of wisdom yet, thus we have full authority over their lives until they are legally old enough to do so. And as many of us know turning 18 does not always equal wisdom and making the best life choices.
Parenting this way is not easy and often lonely. Actually it is hard. Really hard most of the time. Because we are dealing with nine different personalities. Each with their own minds and desires. Each with their own pasts. Each with their own free will and figuring out how much they can truly exert them. Each learning to understand who God is and what it truly means to surrender their lives to Him and what that looks like day to day. Each learning to trust us their parents, as they watch us follow after God. Each learning how to forgive and be forgiven. Each learning to accept love even when they don’t feel worthy. Each learning to dream about their futures and waiting on God to lead them step by step through all He has for them. Each learning that we (their parents) are human and make many mistakes along the way, and seeing us doing our best to get it right day after day. They have learned by watching us, that parenting is hard work and so worth it.
It is obvious after sharing all that I have during the last month that hearts are being stirred and the time is now for change to begin with us – the parents!
Over the last week I have read many challenging posts about parenting. Posts that began some tough discussions around here. Each one is important to be read and shared.
Let me share them with you now. I pray they help you navigate through some of the toughest parenting years! Please share your favorite parenting posts in the comments. Let’s help each other be encouraged by more words of wisdom. We are in this together and need to help each other be accountable to do what is not just right, but is best for our children! Keep reminding yourself they deserve it. Don’t give up on them even when it feels like they have totally walked away from you and the truth. Everyone deserves to know their life is worth the hard work and struggles. You can’t make them do what is right after a certain age and you need to be gracious with yourself when they have blatantly chosen a very hard path for themselves. Leave the door of communication open and pray fervently for them to once again to walk in truth and love.
- Are you raising daughters? Then please take the time to read this Raising Daughters in a World That Devalues Them: 7 Things We Must Tell Them. Along with this awesome quote graphic!
- Dads - your daughters need to hear this from you! A Letter to Victoria Secret’s From a Father This is not about being strict or old school - it is about saying to every single little girl out there that she is worth more than her looks and trying to get sexual attention from any boy or man will never fill her with joy, peace, or LOVE! A good man falls in love with the heart and the looks are the icing on the cake. If not friends, we are all adding to the problem and every growing sex trafficking around the USA and world!!!! When I heard this the other day I felt sick to my stomach and glad we do NOT support this store in any way. I have not shopped there is years and now have zero desire to do so!
- Girls listen up - Mom's be brave and share this with your teens! Truth is freeing and God knows they won't get truth from their peers and people who think anything less of them than God does! Read this awesome post - Sex.
- Sometimes a post just wakes up your soul and this was one of them for me. 25 Things Our Sons Need to Know about Manhood
- Children are on the internet at such tender ages. The statistics for how many hours a day are mind boggling to me. It is so important that you know everything your children are doing while on all social media and who they are talking to. This is a great post on why we need to be so diligent: Parents Beware: Instagram & Kik Messenger Are A Dangerous Combination & What Social Dangers to Check For Our children do not have access to any social media until they are about 18 years old. If they need to email someone, then it is done through our accounts. If they need to look up something for school, then we do it together. Every computer in our home has Net Nanny.
- I can't even imagine dealing with parents today in the schools. Most don't want to parent let alone have a child trained up in any way anywhere - because then it means they have to do the hard work it takes to support a teacher who is worth their salt! Teachers shouldn't be spending 80% of their time disciplining a child who obviously is never told no at home. Nor should a teacher be expected to deal with a child who constantly disrespects the class rules and never does their homework, let alone on time or with diligence to do it well. Parents it is time for us to do the hard work of raising the bar at home and then sending our children who have been taught the basics to school and stop relying on a mixed up world to get it right for us. We need to help our schools by working together to raise the bar in every area - from curriculum to what our children are being fed each day. Junk in junk out and bad behavior comes from it. Nutrition in and minds work. That simple. Ok, now to the article! What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents.
Parents remember more is caught then taught. This is an excellent reminder for all of us. You can’t change how you lived yesterday, but you have all the power to change how you live tomorrow.
Take it one day at a time and if you need help to get through the tough years seek out the support you need. Don’t let shame or guilt keep you from getting the help you and your family needs. If your friends and family can’t separate their feelings to truly offer help, then find professionals who can.
Praying for all of us as we raise the next generation of leaders and the parents of our grandchildren. That thought is so humbling!