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.

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Ways to Heal After Leaving

Realize that you are dealing with grief–plain and simple.  Leaving means loss.  Loss of friends, reputation in the community, innocence, community, and definitely time. Don’t minimize the trauma involved in exiting and don’t minimize the loss you feel. 

Here are a few methods to heal from the anxiety of leaving a toxic, high-control fundamentalist group. Remember that spirituality has to be based on our personal relationship and walk with God and not just the practices and performance of a particular religion or even a feeling.

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Reasons I Moved On- Part 2

Our Engagement picture 1987

Was it painful to walk away from my reputation, position (Church Elder) and friends held dear for 35 years? Extremely, excruciating. Did I meet good examples of Christianity and come in contact with wonderful people and have good times there? Yes I did. Could I have gone away quietly and never said a word about the negative things I encountered? Well, If I were a different person, probably so, but that’s not me, and I’m glad it’s not. From the feedback I’ve gotten over the last few months, it was helpful to others and myself to air out the truth of what I see. It was important to break the code of silence, “the smile and don’t talk about it” syndrome that had remained in the back rooms, on phones calls and in corners after church services for many, many years. I needed to have truth and genuineness in my life.

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Reasons I Moved On

serve grow happyThis post is mostly for those who might be curious how I got to this point in my life of not working with my denomination. Primarily, because I wanted the second half of my life to be under God’s control and not the control of men. I wanted to get to know God for myself and have the freedom to obey, teach and do what he was imparting to me. Under the current system in our church, that would be impossible. I was not willing to live my one life under the ownership of anyone and least of all leaders that were simply trying to hold the status quo together for their various personal reasons and no longer interested in spiritual growth. It’s a true saying that you cannot rise above your teachings.

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