Another Christian woman shared how kids who get involved with music before 2nd grade have higher IQs. “Jackie, it’s important they play a musical instrument.” I panicked, “OMG! I want my kids to be smart!” And I learned I should NEVER let my kids sleep in our room. And Stride Rite shoes were
best for your child’s foot development, never mind that they were $40 a pair. And God forbid if your child didn’t do “first time obedience” since counting to three was a sure fire sign of bad mothering.
Out of necessity (because I couldn’t afford the options presented nor did I have children who obeyed immediately) I started asking questions. Global questions. Did these “truths” hold to be self evident for all people in all cultures?
I’d been to Israel. During Jesus’ time people slept in one room. I’ve been to Africa, and people sleep in one room – because for most people there is only ONE room to be had. (Back in the 1950’s it was normal for a family to have one bathroom and 2-3 growing boys share a bedroom.) Global questions help us put our mothering into perspective.
I asked questions about my life. Was I stupid because I hadn’t played a musical instrument? Was Steve? Nope, both of us are “smart enough.” And last I checked, my feet have held up without wearing Stride Rite shoes. And upon reading Scripture I found God to be extremely patient with his kids. If he administered the “first time obedience” rule, I would spend the majority of my life in his time out! If God doesn’t demand that, why should we?
Pressure from outside. Fear on the inside. It drives us mothers.
It was my second son Hampton who turned me from drinking the Christian culture’s ideas of mothering to drinking straight from Jesus himself. It was okay to learn from others, but no longer would I receive everything as “truth” nor would I try to conform to others’ ideals. I wanted to conform to Jesus only.
Hampton is Dennis the Menace on caffeine. (That’s him keeping me locked in my bathroom.) He’s smart and exceptional. I’m not sure why we mothers work so hard to “produce” exceptional children. Above average is good enough. Exceptional people are tormented. Think Picasso. Even as a kid, Hampton was gifted and extremely difficult. I read all the books on “strong-willed children” the last being Dr. Dobson’s book, “How to Raise Boys.” I read it then threw it against the wall. “Okay, but what do you do when that doesn’t work?”
I would never reach “the ideal Christian mother” status with Hampton in tow. It was Hampton’s design that forced me to accept Jesus’ design for me as a mother. I stopped going to others for direction and headed to Jesus first. I stopped listening to all the voices. (Have you noticed most who instruct us on Christian parenting don’t have a Hampton? And I’m done with Christian women making other women feel less by their comparative comments: “Oh, my daughter attends bible study. Oh, my son made honor roll. Well, my child would never ——–.)
Through out my 20 years of preaching I’ve rarely spoke on parenting. I didn’t want my youthful self interpreting Scripture in ways that put women in bondage. But now that my kids are grown there are a few things I can speak about, things Jesus taught me along the way. One lesson I learned from Jesus is he’s more interested in my faithfulness than I am. When I was raising my kids I wanted a guarantee from Jesus. If I did my part he would promise my kids would turn out alright. Sometimes I cajoled even demanded but I learned God doesn’t give us parents that guarantee. One morning while reading 1 Peter 1, I heard the Spirit whisper, “Jackie, will you be faithful no matter what happens with Hampton?” That’s a hard question to be asked. I wanted Jesus assurance. He didn’t give it. 1 Peter 1:67 states that our faithfulness is more precious to Jesus than anything else. It’s not whether our kids turn out to be amazing Christians but whether or not we’ve been faithful raising them in spite of how things turn out.