Parenting styles are as widely varied as the coffee menu at your local brew house.Â If someone had told me about helicoptering, co-sleeping and authoritative when I was in my early twenties, I would have laughed in their faces and assumed some form of sexual innuendo. Who knew so many different forms of parenting styles and classifications exist. As of late I have been pondering if I am really doing this parenting thing right/wrong based on the way I was raised as a child. Thoughts that are based on a series of comments spoken to me very recently. “You were not raised in a “Christian” home,” I was told. Feeling this to be the most “Christ-like” of insults I laughed and thought well if I wasn’t raised that way then I must be have been raised and raising sinners.
Well into my late thirties I am learning about this other form of parenting style. One more attribution I will fail to achieve as a parent I suppose. Expecting some form of therapy for not breast feeding G for the entire first five years of his life, not allowing co-sleeping with the twins since they were preemies or that we do not pay a minimum of $35 per week for allowance, prime topics I am sure we will discuss in talk therapy later. I digress in dark sarcasm. In all seriousness, I really pondered my upbringing comparatively with that to how I am raising my children.
Is the reality of being raised in a Christian home all that different than being raised in a non-Christian home by loving parents? Unsure of the context of this statement other than an insult, I did what any grown woman does…asks her parents. Calling my Dad he guffawed and cackled wildly. Oh I love this man, then asked what capricious person would make such a blanket ignorant statement. Divulging the details we spoke at length; his explanation of this form of child-rearing is simple and beautiful.
Kar, do you remember the John Travolta movie about how he lived in a bubble, well, there is a parenting style for that too called “Being Raised in a Christian Home.” You attend a Christian school, only have Christian friends, go to a Christian secondary school, college, study theology only to go on to work your first and only job at a Christian church. These folks create a micro-environment and never venture outside the safety of religion.
Wow. Was I really raised so horribly? Was my upbringing that much of a disability in their eyes? Does this somehow hinder my present faith? My salvation? Interesting.
A part of me found this parenting style fascinating and abhorrent all the same. Waves of pity rushed over me then questions about culture, diversity, worldliness and being amongst all God’s people flooded my mind. Do followers of Christ only surround themselves with the righteous? Does this afford them an expressway trip to heaven? I was perplexed. Seeing their choices and path as just different than mine I struggled to understand the point of this unfounded comment.
My parents did not enforce “religion,” they afforded me my maverick nature, free will to make decisions in life, learn lessons, at times, the hard way. One might say that my parents helped raise a sinner. I snuck out of the house on several occasions, ditched school, had premarital sex, defied authority, cursed(still do), lied…a lot, drank alcohol, drove drunk, did drugs, I could go on. They punished me fervently. As a teen, young adult and 20something I lived wild, conducting myself in an unmentionable fashion and defying religious law. I surrounded myself with broken people. Divorcees, drunkards, thieves, liars.
Living amongst the melting pot of heathens, even to this day, I found these are just the sinful traits of people but not what defines them as individuals or the way they were raised. By not being raised in a bubble I learned to adapt in the real world, deal with conflict, understand risk, loss, heartache, pain, desperation. Effective communication became about survival in certain situations, I learned to communicate in high stress situations and process information at an unusually fast speed. I understood courage, confronted fears and found by doing the wrong thing how to do the right thing.
Which is what makesÂ my testimony that much more powerful. My mother always told me “I never wanted to break your spirit.” What she didn’t articulate is she never wanted me to be anything other than myself, she never wanted me to be someone else, believe anything that I did not believe to be true in my heart. Dad has always reminded me of David, a man with great flaws but the immaculate beauty for a perfect love of God and love of his family. Dad taught me about blind loyalty and love for family. Mom taught me about grace when I thought grace was how well you carried yourself in a dress, she preached the golden rule and authenticity.
The way they raised me instilled an environment free of oppression. Referring to what I call my 40 years of wandering the desert, I chose to accept God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. I made this choice because I wanted that for my life, I wanted more. Having the ability to reflect on former decisions and my former life granted me enlightenment that I might not have experienced had I been “raised in a Christian home.” The joyful humility to share with my children my testimony will be their testimony. My legacy will be their testimony.
Raising children is a tough job as it is, let alone subjecting ourselves to the harsh criticism, judgment and method in which we should conform for the society’s sake. I am loving growing up with my kids, that I learn each day, each month, each year how to be a better parent. Enjoying that they can ask questions out loud, be curious, be rebellious, exhibit all the facets, tones and variations of emotion, feelings. Yet G, Seth and Sara are the most respectable, gentle, caring and authentic humans God could bless and entrust me to raise. Never do I want them to feel entitled or that they need to act in any way to appease me or their father, seeking our approval or that they need to believe what we believe. The freedom they are given to go wander the desert if they want and in no way would they be any less of people or denigrated for their choices as they learn to maneuver life. I am completely okay with raising sinners.