Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grace for Parents a Generation Up

My generation provides a lot of perfect examples of how the homeschool movement has flopped.  Sad, but true.  It doesn’t make me think homeschooling’s bad (we’re planning on doing it, after all!), but there are definitely some major pitfalls- especially with “the movement”.  The biggest thing that bothers me – the biggest failure in my opinion – are all the legalistic, controlling parents.  It’s the kids who aren’t allowed to think for themselves….it’s the young adults who have to either live under the chains of their parents, or break away entirely.  And I sit back wondering, “What the heck are those parents thinking?”  Considering that it’s a very common thing, I guess most parents don’t actually mean to. 

But today….I was thinking a little bit about what parents in general, and specifically homeschool parents, go through.  They’re still wronging their kids…but I could see why.  You pour everything you have into your kids…and you want it all to turn out okay.  You have an idea of what “okay” is.  You make the choices you do because they seem like the best to make.  You’ve thought through why you believe what you do, and are certain it’s right.  So, whether consciously or subconsciously, I bet most parents want their kids to make the same decision.  The intensity level is probably increased for most homeschoolers, because you’re investing that much more of your life in your kids.

(I do realize there are more malicious reasons, as well, on the parts of some parents…  And, I also realize the homeschool movement has done some good things, and has some success stories.)

We were joking at a babywearing meeting recently….about “forcing” kids and kids-in-law to babywear.  About what we might have to say to a kid who thought otherwise. 

I thought about how hard it would be to have a son marry some girl who was adamant about plastic parenting and using cry it out.  Or worse, having one of my kids – my flesh and blood – adamantly supporting it.  About standing by as my grandbabies suffered the side effects of cry it out, BabyWise life, etc.  I’m passionate about the way I parent our kids.  I research and read, and observe in real life.  I know – from research and real life observances – what cry it out does to babies.  I know it causes irreparable damage.  I know what kind of irreparable damage occurs when babies spend a substantial amount of time in car seats, cribs, and other contraptions.  I’m learning what kind of irreparable damage occurs in a punitive-based parenting style.  God’s been gracious enough to show specifically how damaging that would’ve been for Vivi, before the damage was done.  Did you catch that word- irreparable?  As in, permanent?  My grandbabies suffering permanent damage because my kids don’t parent “right”?  And me just watching? 

Ummmm… thanks?

And I remembered.  No expectations.  That’s what we want for ourselves; it’s what we want for our kids, too.  We give grace to our peers, and we give grace to our kids now.  We “allow” our friends and relatives to parent the way they see fit.  Someday, I’m going to have to give grace to let our kids lead their adult lives- including choosing how they parent.  Even if they don’t embrace my passions.  I’ll have to give grace, and trust to God He has a plan for each of their lives.

Because even uglier than the idea of cry it out being used for my grandbabies…is the idea of holding my children in bondage with my expectations.  The idea of them feeling the need to cut ties all together…or parenting in a certain way just to please me- just because it’s what I believe, not because it’s what they believe.  Even uglier is refusing to extend to my babies the very thing I strive to extend to everyone else in my life.

I see now- as my areas of passion are touched on- that it may not be easy.  But it is my goal.  And with God’s help, we’ll conquer.  I still hope that they’ll parent to the best of their ability- and yes, I hope that includes parenting instinctively.  But, our children will be free….and greater even than the legacy of parenting instinctively, we’ll share a legacy of grace and freedom.