10.06.2005

the boy in the bubble

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I was reading a Q&A section in a christian publication the other day. One of the questions was this:

“Q. We are saturated today with morally questionable images and messages through myriad media outlets. Besides moving to a deserted island, what are some ways I can guard my kids and instill godly values-without over-sheltering them from the real world?”

Now, I’m sure that the answer given by the columnist was fascinating but I quit reading right after the question.
I thought back to the many discussions my wife and I have had since having our two sons on this very subject. Katie and I are products of vastly different parenting styles. This has made our conversations about our children’s future very interesting. Here’s a little background:

I was raised in a very strict family, with Dad being very much the authoritarian. I was very sheltered. I was home schooled, my parents “screened” my friends, I didn’t get to watch “dirty dancing”, I didn’t get to listen to secular music, I didn’t get to sleep over or do things like that.
Katie jokingly calls me “the boy in the bubble”.

Katie’s parents had a different approach. They were of the opinion that they had done their best to instill godly values in her as a small child and they were going to let her go out there and let her figure it all out. They said, “what good is the light that is in you until you take it into a dark place?” Don’t get me wrong, they cared, they were protective as well, she wasn’t a wild child or anything, but still a very different approach.

So, I guess that question in the magazine is my own. How can I teach my children to be real, and relational, and relevant, without compromise? I don’t want to over-shelter, but I certainly don’t want to under-shelter either.


We live in the tension. Where is the perfect balance point?



9 comments:

Roman said...

I don't have any kids or anything, but your question sparked another: What are Godly values anyway? If Christ ate and drank with the "sinners", tax collectors, and other supposingly vile kind, and we are to be like Christ, than wouldn't exposing the seculer be he right thing to do instead of hiding it from them. Of course, there are obvious lengths you can't go to, but Christ seems to be the kind of guy to listen to Led Zeppelin over Jars Of Clay, or even Black Sabbath over...any of the the multiple Christian "rock" bands out there. So, in that case, wouldn't the "bubble boy" approach be ungodly? Yet at the same time, you can't just send them on their way and hope for the best. I'll let my daughter walk with a flashlight into dark places, sure--but I'll also be at her side waiting to turn on the high powered search light. So would the compromuse be to let them into the world but to stay close to them, so when certain problem does uccor you can censor as needed or explain to them what is right or wrong? Damn, Jimmy, I don't even have a girlfriend right now and you have me worrying about children!

jamie said...

I think you should just feed them a lot of twinkies.

Jeremy said...

We're trying to work this out as well. Our kids are 5 and 8 and our goal at the moment is to give them an upbringing that enables them to handle any situation and be strong enough to hold to their values in any situation, and not just adapting to peer morals. It's a difficult one because you need to protect and nurture to a point when they're old enough to stand on their own when we must let go. From that point on they are their own person, but until they/we die we will always be there if required, for whatever reason. It's a fine balance between overprotecting them and reckless parenting. We are allowed to make mistakes though, we all have and will continue to. We're learning as we go, and we won't know if our theories work until it's too late.

Jeff said...

theories are for scientists.
love 'em, teach em, and believe in them. expect heartache and frustration. but in the end, we raise them to set them free to do and experience what we have AND have not done.

if they see a safe God in their parents, they will serve a safe God. but if they see a wild lover and exciting God, one who calls them to lay it all on the line...one who is not safe, but Good...they will serve that same God.

UGO4GOD said...

My dad who is full blooded Pomo Indian said once that you have to give your kids roots and wings. Roots to where they know where their family has come from, wings to let them go. My parents and culture dictates an interdependent lifestyle, rather than a "culture-independent" lifestyle. Geronimo insisted that we put our minds together and see what sort of life we could make for our children. Pretty simplistic, but with kids ages 15, 10 and 8 and 18 nieces and nephews, it seems like it's worked. Rudy and I have a mission~ to raise our kids and grandchildren so that they will always want to maintain a relationship with us~ Everything we do in our daily life revolves around that principle~ we pray for and with them, we love them, we forgive them, we ask forgiveness, we lift them up and we spend our undivided attention on them...hence, I don't answer my phone all the time...too busy raising up kids. I don't know if there is a "perfect" way to raise kids having been a student of child development...I just know that they are a blessing, a gift that God has trusted us enough to give to us...don't take a second to take the gift for granted~ God's in the details of how we parent, just look ahead and see what sort of relationship you are creating with your kids along the way. Because rules you give your kids without building a relationship first, never works.

lee said...

i thought that i had some pretty profound stuff to say...

that was before i clicked the post a comment link & read what the above had to say...

what the hell else can be added after you've got roots & wings...

i love the idea of that...

Jenny Jorg said...

Hmm yeah it's really hard (I would imagine) to overcome the way each parent was raised. Mainly because you might have resented some ways that you were raised and therefore you do the opposite or something like that/

Jarred D said...

it is an interesting dilema this child rearing thing. because you may feel strongly about an aspect of how you or your spouse was raised, so you are either inclined to protect that tradition, or reject that tradition. whats important is that always be aware, since raising a child is not as easy as picking a strategy and sticking with it, because we will make mistakes, so be sensitive to how your child(ren) are responding and change up your approach if & when necasarry. also remember how your spouse was raised had a great deal to do with who you married, and for the most part if someone married that person, the odds are that someone thinks that person turned out okay. some of the same traditions that impacted your spouse will likely have the same influence on your children. just be sensitive to them, always gauging their response to different approaches youll find whats productive vs. destructive.

ben said...

I think about this a lot bro, well...I worry really.

I mean, I don't even have kids yet but I pretty much think about the things that I DON'T want to do all the time...The thing that I have to remind myself is that I'm going to be coming at this parenting thing as a newbie regardless of what I think I know!

I can tell you though that I'm very proud of the way that you and Katie have raised Scuba-Diver and Malachi so far...they're the coolest kids I know.