(Sometimes there’s a fun re-run that we like to read again. This time the re-run, for Mother’s Day, is one of the most controversial archival editions. It’s not for fun, but it’s for the children that I want to keep saying (even though I know my voice is a small one) the things that are hard to think about in our world of heightened sensitivities. Children still need all the same things they needed a generation ago or even a hundred generations ago, so we should keep repeating truths that are timeless, but nevertheless, may offend the culture. I never want to purposefully offend. I pray today’s post does not offend, at all, but rather is helpful to someone–maybe someone young, who still has some monumental decisions in front of her. May she make them for His glory! So here:
As I travel around and speak for various ladies seminars, I am extremely blessed to meet moms of all ages who share with me nuggets of wisdom gleaned from years of experience combined with time in the Word. My home and children have been richer as a result of this fellowship and sharing. There have been a few memorable occasions, though, when women have opened their mouths and something really senseless has issued forth. I think these ridiculous observations from mothers have helped me as much or more than the statements of wisdom. When people fail to study His word and make practical applications in their families, spiritual stupidity ensues. In the presence of women who seem to be clueless about spiritual priorities and biblical motherhood, the wisdom of my God and the peace that is mine when I apply his truth in my family is glaring. I am immediately humbled in this situation and thankful that I do not have to rely on my own resourcefulness or wisdom in motherhood. This parent is grateful to have a Parent who is infinitely resourceful and wise and who has revealed His plan for my home. And it’s all in a book I can carry in my purse. What a blessing! I’ve chosen a few real “gems” from my list of The Most Misguided Mom Statements I’ve Ever Heard” to share below. Read them and weep!
“Well, there is that one thing…”
I was speaking at a ladies seminar one afternoon on the topic of “Keeping our Families from Worldliness.” After my presentation, a sixty-something lady came up to the front of the room, expressed her appreciation for the lecture, and then went on to say how very blessed she and her husband had been in their family. Her children had all reached adulthood and they had never caused a single minute’s problem for her and her husband. They were now raising beautiful children of their own, maintaining a close relationship with the grandparents and actively leading in their careers and communities. I told her how proud I was for her and just sort of incidentally asked where those young families live and worship. She told me the communities in which they live and then I pursued the second question, since I had some knowledge of one of those communities. “Which congregation do they attend?” I asked.
“Well, there is that one thing,” she responded. “None of my children are faithful to the Lord.”
So many responses would have been appropriate at this juncture, but I was speechless. I was so amazed at the casual way she interjected that tragic statement about the spiritual depravity of her family that I was at a loss for words. The dropping of my jaw and an “I’m so sorry,” was about all I could manage. I wanted to say, “Lady, that is the only one thing that matters,” or “Ma’am, did you realize that all of your children are living their lives in utter and complete failure?!” Paul talked about one thing that was important. He said “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind me and reaching forward to those things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13,14).”
Jesus told Martha that one thing was needful and that Mary had chosen that one thing (Luke 10:42). Perhaps He said it best, though, when He said, “What doth it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
I wish I didn’t have to work…
I drove up to a fabulous house in a high-end neighborhood where I would be staying while speaking in the area. I walked through beautifully decorated rooms, past an entertainment center and shelves of videos. I said hello to two well-dressed young children and went upstairs to the beautiful guest room where I would be sleeping. The next morning when I awoke, I peered out the window at a fenced, park-like backyard complete with a full-scale playground. I went downstairs for some orange juice and began to converse at the kitchen bar with my hostess. Somehow in the conversation we got on the subject of stressed and busy lifestyles. In this context came the unbelievable statement I hear so often: “I wish I didn’t have to work, so I could stay home and raise my children.”
Now I’ve heard many variations of this statement. Kids have said it to me like this: “My mom would like to stay home with me, but she says if she stays home, we can’t have our pool…or new house…or whatever goes in the blank.”
There is a way to get past this amazingly materialistic mentality. Go on a mission trip to Zambia or Argentina. Listen to children talk about digging in fields for rats to eat or spend a couple of weeks where there are no adequate sewage systems, no hot water and goat head is listed on the entrée list at eating establishments. I could go on, but the point is all too obvious. We are so rich in America that we’ve come to include the “posh” in our lists of basic necessities. Our children are often bringing us shame, because they have grown up in worlds of instant gratification; worlds void of guidance and nurture. “A child left to himself brings his mother shame (Prov.29:15).” We, like that rich young ruler, will continue to reap sorrow when we allow our possessions to own us rather than the other way around.
“He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Matt. 19:22)
“We like to save our ‘no’s.”
I was sitting in a close friend’s kitchen when I decided to ask her if she was concerned about some of the entertainment choices her thirteen year old was making. The media choices of this kid were definitely uncharacteristic of the godly values of his parents. The answer: “We don’t like these choices, but we like to save our ‘no’s for the big things. We feel if we say no all the time, then our prohibitions will be less effective when it comes to some big issue like sex or drugs.”
Practicing the ‘no’s with seemingly small matters is the way kids catch on to the fact that “no” means “no”. It’s the way they assimilate the information that Mom and Dad care enough about them to monitor, direct and guard them, even when it requires time and attention to detail. In short, keeping a watch over the small things and demanding compliance in them is the only way to insure respect when it matters most. Saving our ‘no’s as parents will yield a big bunch of saved-up ‘no’s when our kids need them most, but saved-up ‘no’s, like old kitchen spices, have lost their potency. Kids need practice with restrictions. They have to listen when you say “Stay on the sidewalk,” so later they will listen when you say, “Stay away from drugs.” This constant listening practice is essential for ultimate spiritual success. “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).
The list goes on. I’d love to have space to comment on the absurdity of statements like “ I wish my thirteen year old would ______________, but I have asked her and she just says ‘no’.” (Is she sleeping under your roof and eating at your table?! ) Another unbelievable one is “Okay, so she is having sex. Let’s get some birth control,” or the frequent “We let our kids go to the dances,” or “see all the movies with their friends,” or “wear the current fashions” (or whatever compromising activity it may be). “After all, we don’t want them to grow up thinking Christianity is a burden.” (Never mind the fact that Jesus called discipleship a yoke and a burden [Matt.11:29,30]).
Parenting is not for the weak. Giving birth, changing diapers, feeding and clothing are all the easy parts. The real challenge is to consistently place the ammunition of respect for the Will of God into the hearts of little people who will soon face the Goliaths of worldliness and corruption that plague our society. We cannot raise our children on permissive fences in which we give the nod to Christianity while we let them enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb.11:25). They will inevitably fall on the wrong side of that fence and the short season of pleasure will turn to years of the wretched heartache of sin. God empowers us through His Providence and His Word. But we must be diligent parents (Deut.6:6,7), attending to the details of the day to day obstacles the devil places in our paths. Successful parenting is never an accident.