I am involved in a situation at the moment that makes me want to write about raising Christian kids. You Christians do remember, we are in a spiritual war, right? Are you raising warriors, or are just chumming the spiritual waters with these ill-equipped new semi-adults? I am inclined to think people forget that we are training our kids to be adults one day, not mutated extensions of ourselves. At some point, they need to fly, and you either taught them well or you didn’t. It’s that simple.
First, I’ll lay out some credentials. I have been a Christian since age 8 or 9, raised in several churches, and periodically attended a Christian private school. My poor mother did not really have a clue how to raise kids to be adults. Because of the instability of my family, I ended up attending many public schools as well as attended several different churches, and attended some of their schools. I have had the rare privilege of having lived in both worlds – the harsh real one and the religious spiritual one. It messed me up.
I was just a weird kid. I was so naïve at times, people sometimes thought I was faking that rare innocence. I didn’t know what gay or lesbian meant, I accidentally offended the first black person I met, and just the sight of a tampon machine could make me blush bright red. I had crushes on boys, hopes to be picked for plays, played in sports, and dealt with the crisis of childhood, high school.
I ended up getting to put what I’d learned about Christian principles into practice in a public school, with its very real worldly temptations. My mother desperately hated me interacting with the heathens outside of our religious circle, but money for private school wasn’t always there. I am so fortunate it worked out that way.
I guess we all have those one or two things our parents did that we swear we will never do to our kids. My sore spots with Mom were arbitrarily expecting blind obedience constantly, without any explanations of the reasons at all, and raising kids who were helpless, clueless adults. I had to break away harshly from my mother, and while I hated her being angry with me, I wanted to be free more.
I already wrote about using explanations to build bonds of trust between you and your kids. Now I want to touch on raising up warriors, not sitting prey.
Parenting is hard for everyone, but Christians have eternal souls at risk added to their plates. None of us can stand the thought of any of our babies going to hell, and we all work at varying levels and with varying successes to make sure our kids are “raised up in the way they should go, so when they are old, they will not depart from it”.
I can’t say I really had a plan for raising my kids, per se. I talked to mine a lot, even when they were tiny. I explained anything and everything if possible when it came to my decisions, even if it was only to tell them I just wasn’t up for a long discussion and would they just please obey me. And I told them about God, His Word, and how it was important they always find out from the Bible if anyone, even me, told them it said anything. I did not make them say salvation prayers as little kids, and I did not overly shelter them from the world they have to live in one day. They learned quickly that the world is full of people with bad problems, and that life is neither fair nor is it easy. It’s often messy.
My kids went looking for God on their own. They weren’t an extension of my relationship with the Lord, and I let them come to their own decisions about Him. They are each at different points in their walk. And if there is one thing I do know, it is that I was never going to be able to manipulate, bully, or cajole them into being good Christians, no matter how good my intentions were.
I’m dealing with a 20 year-old, adopted young pastor’s daughter (Angela) who has come to live with us for the moment. She has been homeschooled, and only allowed social contact with the members of the congregation her father is the leader of. She was allowed to take a job babysitting for a family down the street from her parent’s house for $50 a week. She lived with this family, took care of three young children, one with severe autism, and allowed to work a very part-time position at a Chick-Fil-A, Employer of Only The Christian Homeschooled. She had been attending college, but her duties with the wards interfered, and her grades suffered so much, she dropped out.
Rebekkah came to me beside herself because on the one hand, she cares for this girl who seems to have latched on to her from nowhere. On the other hand, she has finally found a church home, and she had a feeling the pastor would not like us helping his daughter get out of under his thumb. And because he is the pastor, he could easily lead his congregation to reject her as well. Already, Rebekkah is being passively aggressively shown their displeasure.
See why I don’t miss going to church? Christian behavior has taken a back-seat to very earthly clique-ish manipulations, and by the pastor no less.
I thought about it, prayed, and then decided to not turn this girl away. I simply don’t care if a whole church gets mad at me. It won’t be the first time!
Here is how I outlined my reasoning and my decision:
- This girl is 20 years-old. That is past the age of accountability.
- This girl has either purposely, or inadvertently, been kept from developing her own network of friends, and kept financially unable to care for herself.
- The later age of her adoption and some of the very shocking things being said to her by her father make me think there is not much of a true parental bond here. At the moment, she is ordered to keep a journal of every day and every thing she does to give to her father should she ever need to return home. Really?! That is just creepy.
- This girl is being used for cheap labor by a woman who does not work to raise children that are her responsibility. This family does not go to church, and aren’t proclaimed Christians. It seems that it was the nearness of their address that Angela’s parents were happy with. When Angela’s car broke down, and she couldn’t make it to the house to babysit, the mother was hateful, domineering, and tried hard to make Angela tell her where we lived so her husband could come collect her. Needless to say, Angela quit. Thank God!
- Angela is trying to break free into adulthood, but she is very meek, very much a people-pleaser, and woefully ill-equipped for living on her own. She saw her first homeless person on the street yesterday, and you would have thought the guy was naked the way she hid her face and gasped.
- And lastly, this kid turned to us, barely more than strangers to her, in the middle of the night, instead of calling her parents. She was not going to be going home, with our help or without it. No one here will hurt her.
Angela is going to be fine, but she’s a prime example of raising up soft, clueless adults who aren’t ready to survive life, much less any spiritual attacks. They will be introduced to the harshness of reality; shouldn’t it be while you are still there to teach them?
I am kind of appalled at the behavior of all of these seasoned Christian adults. They are reacting to a very normal, common occurrence in families everywhere since the dawn of time as if Angela is committing some blasphemous sin by not obeying her parents. It has not occurred to any member to call out these odd manipulative behaviors in their pastor, but instead, jump on the chaos bandwagon to make all of this much bigger than it really is. At some point, your kids don’t have to obey you!
Hello! That obeying thing doesn’t carry through until one of us dies!! You become an advisor when they are adults. Hopefully, they will trust you enough to listen to you.
13 responses to “When The Christian Kid Breaks Free”
Sounds like already you’re doing a good job with her, and at the the very least, ‘the right thing’!
Were we to analyse the mindset of many Christians, these behaviours become understandable due to a view that anything ‘in the world’ (which in THEIR minds means ‘outside MY household and my control’) can and WILL corrupt their children as soon as they are exposed to its air! Just look at the Amish!
But I’m totally confused why this pastor would allow her to work in a NON-Christian household! I presumed right away that it was a church member i.e. someone on another level of his control. I DO agree that many churches are about control, and even the best pastors seek to exercise some sort of authority over a congregation in an effort to ‘protect the flock’ from all that they see as evil. For me, finding your own way as a Christian is vital; relying on a church to TELL you how to live the Christian life is dangerous. I came to Christ at 14 from an atheistic family so had to find my way completely alone before I even set foot across a church door a whole year later, and quickly saw all the machinations that went on. I still belong to a church and maintain my worship ministry (I’m a ‘faithful’ member), but I’m aware of the truth that no church or pastor is perfect, so that covers a multitude of ‘sins’ LOL.
I saw my best friend raised in a strict Baptist home, made to attend ALL the meetings and Sunday schools. Once he got married, he discovered his ‘freedom in Christ’ which meant he COULD stay in bed on a Sunday morning if he wished. This led to him just attending less and less. We played together in a Christian band, but once that folded, he had nothing left to prop up his faith, and he just slowly fell away. Ended up joining a biker gang with his wife! Of course, his mother was sure that it was his WIFE that drew him away from church and God! Truth is, she was more spiritual than him.
And so, like you, I resolved NOT to do that (a lesson on Christian parenting by proxy, since my parents weren’t Christian) i.e. my children would not be forced to go to church. When young, they would have to go with us to Sunday services, but Sunday school would be their choice. Midweek meetings, my wife and I took turns to attend/ babysit. Once they were old enough to stay home, we allowed them the choice. Now we have a son who has gone off to his own church where he’s very happy and active, and even discusses spiritual matters with us and prays with us, with NO prompting on our part, and a married daughter who has no interest in spiritual things. They were both entrusted to God’s hands, and as a Christian I don’t believe you can be raised a Christian, just raised by Christian parents. It is always a matter of personal choice. I didn’t even enact any ‘ceremony’ like family prayers or saying grace at meals, ever.
You’re right, there is a huge dilemma as a Christian parent to know what to do, but for me, letting them decide themselves once they’ve seen all sides of the story is an attitude of FAITH. Homeschooling and protecting your children ‘from the world’ is an attitude of FEAR. Angela’s best hope is not now to find out that the world out there is not what her parents taught her (yet) for she’s been too protected to have that shattered – it’s been her whole life up to now. She needs to see that not all Christians are like her parents, and so there is room for adjustment. I hope and pray she finds that with you. That she DID suddenly turn to you may prove that already.
I couldn’t agree with every point you made more. Our kids have to find the Lord just like the rest of us did, and I explained my beliefs, my love for the Lord, my lessons to my kids, but never did I insist they decide right that minute. I have two that are powerful Christians and one who doesn’t care about spiritual matters right now. I pray for her. That’s it. Unless she specifically asks me, I don’t nag her to commit because of some fear I have. She’s as smart and willful as the other two…she’ll find her way to the truth.
I guess the part of all of this that is just a total mind-freak is that after all that homeschooling, church attendence, and living with a pastor, the kid knows next to nothing about the bible. Nothing! She can quote her father’s interpretations (barely) and that’s it.
So, what exactly was the point in keeping her so secluded AND not teaching her to get her answers from the Word?
Her mother keeps a journal with every thing she has ever done wrong written in it. Her dad told her she wasn’t his daughter since she would not come home. (She’s adopted. Nice parenting.)
I’m just shocked at all of this!
I’m just shocked that they were allowed to adopt! Aren’t they always vetted and checked and given personality tests by experts beforehand? Surely such control freaks would be evidently obvious to a professional? (Huh?) Oh no, maybe I’m wrong, that only happens here. I believe in the US that anyone can approach a mother and offer to adopt her child, or is that just on the TV soaps and sitcoms?
That’s just tv. It is really hard to adopt here, but surprisingly easy to be foster parents. I am as mystified as you are!! God help them if they show up on my door step with any of that nonsense!!
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Well, adoption is a huge subject, with many pitfalls. We want adopters to be properly vetted and monitored, but should anyone suggest we do the same for natural parents and right away that’s government interference in the family home! So our social services back off and reduce their involvement, then some crazed parent kills their child and all the newspapers berate the social workers for not acting! Wouldn’t have that job for anything!
I suppose if you have ‘good Christians’ doing the monitoring, then this pastor comes across as ‘a good upstanding Christian leader’ and fools them into seeing him as perfect for adopting. We pray in our church for government leaders to be Christian. Actually, I don’t want ‘Christian’ leaders (especially when they are of the ultra-right branding), I want ‘Christ-like’ leaders. [THAT is going up on boldomatic!]
I think it’s so sad to read about the extremes of Christianity and the effects it can have on.. in this case a young woman who wants to grow into adulthood but is being hindered by the control of her parents and church. I literally squirm when I read about attitudes like this.. Where is the freedom for this young woman… God wants us to choose for ourselves..not forced by someone else. I’m so glad she found you… not that you particularly need another challenge right now, but just that it’s ‘you’…. with the compassion and love that you share so freely… Diane
I can see God’s fingerprints all over this situation, and I feel blessed He is using me to help her. Sometimes I find some relief in being able to focus on something different from my normal problems.
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Too true! Dealing with other people’s problems, even if we’re just mentioning them in prayer, always lends perspective to our own woes!
Hey there sweet pea. As always, your ruminations have led me to think. I am going to reflect and refer to this column in one of mine in the coming days. Love you bunches, Bird!
Love you, too! I’d be honored!!
Faith based parenting is great, but it’s only a foundation. I think it’s a great start, but in the end it’s what the kids build upon it. Some totally severe the ties, others hold onto the shadow of it. I think your efforts are qualifying for Sainthood. 🙂
You know Bird just because a man is a pastor does not make him a man of God. What you just described are the actions of a narciccistic sociopath who is hiding behind the mask of pastor of a church. Sociopaths love posititions of powere and they also like to pretend that they are spiritual gurus or men of God. A real man of God and a real father does not treat his children that way. Re-read your post and look very hard at the actions of this so-called pastor. He is a sociopath. And if your daughter is going to his church I would suggest she may want to look into another church. Getting a group to ostresize one person is what those with NPD-do best. The situation you describe is very ugly indeed. God sent this girl to you for a reason.
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I agree with 100%!