Learning to Breathe As A Christian Parent, Ages 3-18

I love that definition of prayer.  Simply putting oneself in the hands of God.  One thing my experience as a Christian parent has taught me:  Breathe, pray and don’t take everything so seriously. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent.  If we believed that God created them and has plans for their lives, then realize that God is there to talk to them when you’re not. 

Casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7.

God is not this judgmental ogre who stands there waiting to condemn you at every turn.  He does not force us or even micromanage our affairs. He simply teaches and loves. I’m learning to imitate that part of the divine.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved  children. Ephesians 5:1

Our children are wonderful human beings that we’ve been blessed to raise.  Each one of them is different in their own manners, thinking process, emotions and character.  As I pull away from toxic things I see my kids for what they are: individuals.  

There is something about looking at my children this way and not as an extension of my own image that is freeing and refreshing. So often as Christians we tend to focus on how our children make us look since there is this duty to bring them up in “the fear of the Lord”.

So to continue my discussion of child development, here we go:

Ages 3-5

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Experts tell us this is an “assertive” age with a lot of activity and questions.  Kids want to initiate and interact. As much as possible, try to support their desire to learn or  avoid over controlling them at this age. If they’re constantly criticized or overly controlled they will learn to withdraw and develop guilt about normal behavior.  Try not to make them feel like they’re a nuisance even when they ask questions over and over again. Of course some guilt is necessary so that the child will have a conscience. 

I used to wonder why highly controlled children seemed to have little initiative and seemed almost blank in creativity. Maybe this is why.

Age 5-12

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If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious (competent) and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his or her potential. If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding (e.g., being athletic) then they may develop a sense of inferiority. Resource

To learn competence, the child has to experience failure. Kids learn by initiating, doing and seeing if they can be successful in things they started.   If they are not allowed to do anything on their own, the skill and power of feeling competent is a struggle. I’ve seen children, including my own that have grown up in a highly controlled existence. Usually they struggle with self-esteem and feeling accomplished.

Adolescence

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 Any of us that have teens knows that our relationship with them changes during this time.  We have to move along with their maturity. Teens are looking toward, careers, relationships, family housing and becoming independent and wanting to find out who they are.  It’s a critical stage. Sometimes in religious settings it’s styled as an age of rebellion. I prefer to think of it as adult discovery. They are discovering relationships, sexuality, their own thoughts on subjects, what careers they might be good at and even their own belief system.   They may not want your religion or lifestyle and it’s ok because they are finding out about their own identity. Many Christian parents are afraid of this stage because the questions come out and doubt comes in and the parents are afraid they will lose the child forever. Just pray for them.  

f God loves and understands them at this stage so should we. The child needs to understand that you’re there for them and will listen to them and talk to them like the adults they are becoming.

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Learning To Breathe As A Christian Parent, Age 0-2 years

Lately, I’ve been trying to educate myself about child development from a secular standpoint. In the beginning, fundamentalist childrearing seems good because the children seem very obedient and controlled. But if the goal is to bring them to Christ, it seems to fall apart around adolescence and young adulthood.

Continue reading “Learning To Breathe As A Christian Parent, Age 0-2 years”

Can A Good Church Become A Cult?

I’m sharing this research because part of being a stable Christian is being aware of the pitfalls of religion. Frankly, any business, social or religious organization can become a cult. Just have the wrong people in leadership and there you go. As I talk to Christians, many are unaware of what makes up a cult. The word has such negative connotations, especially in the post-People’s Temple/Jim Jones age. The idea that cult members are these rabid, zombie-eyed deadheads who make no sense when they talk is a misconception. If one listens to , for example, Scientology interviewees, these people are sane, intelligent, educated people who simply thought they were joining an organization where they could make a difference. They didn’t think they’d give up hundreds of thousands of dollars, their freedom and the physical and mental well being of their loved ones. They got reeled in.

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Mature Christianity

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:13-14

To reach maturity every person must experience life and making decisions.  Take a toddler for example.   When a child is 1 or 2 and just beginning to experience the world we make a lot of decisions for them.  We have to guard them from hurting themselves.  This is the appropriate age where a child can get into everything harmful but as that child grows into maturity, you can set near a pool, or a stove or even them have them outside without them running into traffic.  Why? Because they have practice and making decisions about what is bad and what is good for them.   As they grow, its no longer the burning themselves on the stove that you worry about, it’s the more mature decisions about sex ,friends and life-changing habits that come into the picture. Continue reading “Mature Christianity”

Now, About Those Other Sheep

Let’s take God out of the box.

The idea of that one church, religious group, or denomination has a lock on God is ludicrous. The idea that God will only lead a person to one church organization is equally not supported by scripture. Frankly, when a person lets Christ into their heart and life, nothing else is needed, they are already a member of God’s church. God never says, “Now find a Pastor from _________church, and then you’ll be alright.”

Continue reading “Now, About Those Other Sheep”