Kids Safety Series (Week 6 of 6): Recognize the World They Are Inheriting
Perhaps your kids are older & in their teen or adult years. Perhaps they are younger but you find yourself still anxious about their future, what path they will take, & if you’re really getting this parenting thing right. Maybe you’ve done everything listed in the previous newsletters to educate, protect, be a safe place, & prepare your kids for independence…& then some. Or maybe you thought you did good at one point only to look back & wonder where you fell short or what you did wrong. Perhaps you’re that guilt-ridden parent that is plagued by the “what-ifs” & “could’ve, should’ve, would’ves”. Or maybe you’re even a young parent like myself who can tend to think, “Oh, not MY child…I’m raising them RIGHT.” (ßTo which an older, wiser parent of grown children might say with a quiet knowing, “…Just you wait.”). Maybe you’re caring for & concerned with your grandchildren. No matter what camp you find you land in, one thing we each must do is recognize the world our children (& grandchildren) are inheriting.
Here, I’m reminded of the beautifully famous serenity prayer said in many recovery groups. You may recognize it at least in part, but I want to include the full prayer here for reference:
Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
& wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace
Taking, as Jesus did
This sinful world as it is
Not as I would have it
Trusting that You will make
All things right
If I surrender to Your will
So that I may be reasonably happy
In this life
& supremely happy with You
Forever in the next.
Wow. What a bold prayer! When we begin recognizing the world our children are inheriting, we take, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is…not as we would have it.
This SINFUL world.
Do you know what is one of the fastest-growing online businesses, grossing $3 billion dollars, annually? Child pornography. In fact, Fight the New Drug reports that “illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites” with “over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web” every week.
This TRAGICALLY SICK & SINFUL world.
I’m sure you could talk to me all day about the darkness you observe taking place. All one needs to do it flip on the news for their daily dose of grim reality. School shootings, hatred, loss, war, deviant behaviors…it’s unending. For others unfortunate, we need not look further than our own families or household to get an up close & personal look at the dysfunction this sick & sin-filled world produces.
Let me be very clear: “Taking this sinful world as it is” does NOT equate condonation. “Taking this sinful world as it is” is simply seeing the harsh reality of a dark & fallen world in desperate need of saving. A world that has gone so deep in the pit that they can’t save themselves. In fact, they are in dire need of a Savior much greater than this world can offer.
We take this sinful world as it is, not as we would have it. We let go of our idealistic way of thinking what this world SHOULD be. We know how we’d like it. But we know it simply is not that. In fact, it will never be the idealistic dream we may have once thought it was. We must grief this loss of our ideals, wash our face, & embrace the realities of life just as they.
So as we consider our precious children, our grandchildren, or simply children we have come to love & hold dear—young or grown—we do our best to educate, protect, be a safe place, & prepare for independence. We recognize they are having to encounter & come to grips with this dark world for themselves, & then they will need to decide how they will respond, how they will choose to cope. We pray they remember & choose the path of light. The path we desire for them. But if they don’t? Well, if they stray from the ways they were instructed, we know this may cause a lot of stress, anxiety, & heartbreak. It may even be coupled with feelings of failure, guilt, & shame as a parent.
“Taking this world as it is” also means recognizing, no matter which way our children were taught, our children are their own person. They have to make their own decisions, just as you & I have had to grow up & make our own life decisions separate from our parents. If a child veers from your instruction, this does not mean you have failed as a parent, no matter what feelings may come. Feelings are not truth. Feelings are not right or wrong; they simply are. What I am saying is if you feel like a failure, it doesn’t mean you are one. You may feel guilt & shame, but it doesn’t mean you own guilt & shame for another’s decisions. For those in the faith community that have what you may consider to be a “prodigal child”, I’ve come across a couple articles from Focus On the Family & Desiring God that I hope you find helpful & encouraging. The first is “Loving Your Prodigal” & the second is written by a prodigal returned home called “Pray Them Home: 3 Prayers for Prodigal Children”.
In the last newsletter I compared preparing a child for independence in the online world with teaching a child to cross the street. As we recognize the world our children are inheriting & finally let go to allow our children to make their own decisions & learn from their own mistakes, this can, no doubt, be painful. At any time our child may decide to completely ignore the instruction they were trained so diligently in to “get to the other side of the street” safely. They may decide they know better. Or they may simply feel the need to take risks as they test their new-found independence (without the maturity to best assess the real danger in those risks, mind you. But they won’t admit to that. At least not for a while). They may befriend others who scoff at them for “looking both ways” or “being mindful of traffic” as they cross the streets of life (mostly figuratively). They may succumb to negative peer pressure. Or, like many of us have experienced, despite all their safety precautions, life may hit them like a freight train with overwhelming hurts, betrayals, abuses, & traumas that even those with the best upbringing would struggle to cope & heal from.
This is a natural part of life for everyone to varying degrees. Life is messy. It never fully goes our way. Our child’s quest for independence or their chosen way of coping does not necessarily reflect our parenting so much as it reflects our child’s personal choices. There are some things that happen in life no one can anticipate & be fully prepared to deal with at a moment’s notice. In those moments, our child will have to make some hard decisions & decide for themselves which route they will take. Remember: good boundaries recognize where our responsibility ends & another’s begins.
Finally, as we recognize the world our children are inheriting, may we pray for an abundance of love, wisdom, & grace for all. Lord knows we need it.
Do you care to add your thoughts or share a topic you’d like to see covered in future newsletters? We invite your feedback! Join us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram to let us know what you thought of our Kids Safety Series & any comments you’d like to add! Your input is important to us & we love hearing from you!
In this together,