Monday, March 31, 2008

Pondering Parenting: Avoiding Getting Sucked In

Ever been to Ikea? If you're trying to avoid spending money and prefer to just browse, going into Ikea is like walking into an extra-overloaded minefield with clown shoes on... it's next to impossible not to be stopped from your mission without getting blasted (i.e., it's next to impossible to walk out of Ikea without having purchased something).

In my mind, that's similar to what's happening in our culture... our children are getting blasted from the excesses of our culture- and it's extremely difficult to avoid having them "buy in" to it. They are growing up amidst more overt materialism and rampant immorality (from Enron execs to NY Governors to Colorado mega-church pastors) than any generation in recent memory.

And yet many parents continue to sit back, send their kids through the cultural "machine" and then seem surprised to find themselves with a Matthew-McConaughey-"Failure to Launch"-type-kid -- an over-grown child who doesn't ever grow up and go out into the world to find a wife and a life. These "kidults" or "adultescents" have been talked about many times, both here at Making Home and many other places, before, so I'm not going to go there today.

But I want to "rewind", so to speak, and just consider one thing, asked by a thoughtful mother in Rod Dreher's book, "Crunchy Cons":

"It's hard enough for an adult, mature in faith and with a coherent moral and political philosophy, to withstand the barrage of sexuality and materialism she encounters every day. How can we begin to hope that our children can sift through that on their own and come out unscathed?"
It (sometimes) shocks me to see the way Christian parents buy into this have-it-all, 'have-it-your-way' culture for their children but then expect their children to turn out differently. When I hear (or read) Christian parents say things like, "you can't fight it-- every kid has x, y, and z, so we bought one for Blake too.", or "Every kid these days watches moves like blah-blah-blah; Brenna would feel left out if she didn't get to see it.", I find myself wondering: whatever happened to parents who said things like, "if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?" Where did those parents go? Are we so intimidated by and entrenched in this "Disneyland" of American culture that we feel powerless to stand up against it?

Dreher also quotes E.F. Schumacher who noted, "It takes a good deal of courage to say 'no' to the fashions and fascinations of the age..."

So my question for you (and for me) today is this:
What are you doing in your family life to instill in your child(ren) the courage to say "no" to the fashions and fascinations of this age? And what things are you intentionally not doing in your family life to instill in your child(ren) the courage to say "no"?

Or, in other words, why would your children not get sucked into indulging in materialism and immorality? Why will they be any different?

It's not necessarily about eschewing video games, TV, or personal laptops, cell phones, iPods, and Wii's for every child in the family, although it might include avoiding or limiting some of those things. I'm not aiming to compile a list of rules-- but rather, I'd like to hear from you what your family philosophy is about materialism and the morals presented in American culture. What are some of the (specific or broad) ways that you seek to instill different values in your own children?


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