Yesterday, while eating my lunch, I brought up Facebook on my cell phone to discover that my kids had become embroiled in two of the most contentious debates in all of Christendom, Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality, and homeschooling. In both instances the wounds were self inflicted. Kaitlin had offered a dissenting opinion to a pro-homeschooling screed posted by a friend, while Patrick had voluntarily weighed in on the Duck Dynasty controversy by offering his own take on the subject. Neither of their opinions are the kind that will get them invited to the Focus on the Family Christmas party.
First, a disclaimer. I didn’t agree with everything either of them wrote. I registered my disagreements with my son behind the private message screen where only he, I and the NSA could see. Having said that, seldom have I felt more proud as a parent than yesterday, reading the words of my children. Pam and I have somehow managed to raise and unleash upon the world two critical thinkers, unafraid to voice a deeply held opinion, even if that opinion might not be universally admired. Their arguments were intelligent, well reasoned, and free of accusation or venom, and most gratifying to me, well written!
As a parent, it’s asking way too much to have your children agree with you about everything. The best we can do is give them the tools that help them come to their own conclusions. We hope that when the dust of their education settles, they will embrace their faith, and become fully functioning, caring human beings who will become a blessing to others and make a difference in this world.
It is true that we not only taught them how to think, but on many occasions, what to think. I make no apologies for such indoctrination. There comes a time in life, for example, when kids must know without doubt or nuance that placing their hand on a hot stove is for all of eternity a terrible idea. For me, an equally important truth is the reality of God, the fact of his Son, and the existence of transcendent truth. These lessons are more difficult to teach, and there are no guarantees that they will learn. Each one of us has to come to these beliefs ourselves through personal discovery. As a parent, you can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink. So, you expose them to spiritual things, you try to live out an example of a Godly life the best you can, then you turn them loose into the world and hope for the best.
If you’re lucky, you even learn a few things about transcendent truth from your kids. After all, learning and personal growth didn’t stop when I graduated from college. I have learned a few things from them about tolerance, forbearance, and letting go of a few knuckleheaded ideas. They have learned on their own that some of the eternally true things I warned them about back in middle school are in fact eternally true.
Having children to raise is a beautiful thing, never more beautiful than when you pull up Facebook on your cell phone and discover that your little ones are now…adults!