A Primer in Parenting–Part 2

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Part two: Bible Trivia. Shmible Shnivia.

Robynn continues unpacking the list she and Lowell have followed as they’ve attempted to raise their children in the Faith. “I don’t want them to lose faith or to abandon God. We’ve made ourselves a sort of silent checklist…an unspoken, yet agreed upon “How To” guide…to help us parent our three. I have no idea if this stuff works—we’re still very much in process…but here’s the frame work Lowell and I are using, in hopes that, by God’s grace, our kids will not go out on the gospel.”

  1. Bible Trivia. Shmible Shnivia.

If you put your kids up against my kids in a Bible trivia game my kids will lose. They don’t know the Books of the Bible song. I don’t think they’ve ever played Bible Sword Drill in their lives. Some of the things they spout from scripture are horrifying, mixed up names, confused stories. However if you think about it that’s really not what we’re trying to do as parents, is it? We’re not wanting to raise Trivia Pursuits champions; we’re wanting to raise children who understand the overall story of the Bible, the story of redemption, the story of a God who seeks after them and their neighbours and the world with relentless love and compassion. Bible knowledge is certainly important. But knowing God and being known by God are infinitely more important.

  1. Try not to freak out at their doubt and their questions.

We’ve raised our children to be thinkers. We want them to ask questions, to explore, to wonder. We don’t want them to accept things at face value. It’s true with the media. (I want them to question the messages their served up).

But it’s also true with the church. Here too, I want them to cogitate, contemplate and consider. I want them to dig deeper. I long for them to see past the cultural costumes we’ve clothed our faith in. I want them to own their faith…and in order for that to happen they have to take it deep inside their souls and shake it out, and try it on for size. As difficult and time-consuming as it is, I need to resist the temptation to treat their questions as moles that pop up in that arcade game popular at state fairs. Sometimes I want to whack those moles back into place. It’s more convenient. But I think the healthier option is to engage the mole, calmly let it look around, and ultimately let the mole give voice to his curiosities.

  1. Talk about our values.

Our kids hear us talk all the time. They hear us talk about the books we read. We’ve debated policy issues and dissected political issues. They hear us rant about issues of justice. They’ve seen me cry for the pain of the suffering or the plight of the poor. We’ve talked at length about money and faith and climate change; about war and education and equality and a fuller definition of redemption. We talk a lot at this house… and most all of it reflects our values. The other day our 16 year old was wanting (again) to play a video game that is known for its violence. In exasperation he retorted that when he’s on his own he’ll play whatever game he wants to. I replied (almost) calmly that it was our job as parents to pass on our values to him but he could ultimately choose which ones he keeps and which ones he sets aside. Certainly they’ve heard our hearts and the things that are important to us. Maybe (hopefully) some of it has stuck.

  1. Modeling…lots of modeling.

Our kids have seen us seek out Jesus. Each morning when they rise they see us sitting in our chairs with our coffee and contemplations in full swing. They’ve watched us volunteer at the church and in the community. We are gentle activists and they’ve had a front row seat to our activity and our protests and our push for justice. I can only hope that some of it has changed them. I pray that they see us and they’re taking some of us inside of who they will be.

  1. Expose them to great people.

We go to a great church. We rub shoulders with interesting people who do interesting things. We want our kids to know these people; to experience their passions and personalities up close. These great people have so much they could teach our kids. I want my kids to have that opportunity. I also want them to be surrounded by a community of caring adults in case they ever need someone. If our relationships ever sour I want them to know the safety of a larger circle of people that have lovingly encircled them since they were very young.

For Part 1 of the series go here.

Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday.

6 thoughts on “A Primer in Parenting–Part 2

  1. I’ve really appreciated your parenting posts. As my kids get older and start asking real questions, I’ve been struggling a bit, wondering if we’re doing things as well as we can. The hardest part for me is not feeling like I have a real community of faith. We’ve attended our church regularly for the four years we’ve lived here, and yet, these aren’t people I want my kids emulating. We continue because we feel like that’s where we need to be, but it’s hard always feeling like the quiet agitator, always feeling like the odd one out. I just hope (and maybe trust) that my kids will live their own lives and hopefully grow their own relationships with God, despite not attending Sunday school or awana, and despite the reproving looks we get from people for encouraging them to sit with us during services.

    Thank you for your writing. It’s encouraging to me, as a parent on the beginning end of it all.

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    1. Johanna! Thank you for your comments on this post. I said a prayer for you–for wisdom and grace and hope. Parenting is so exhilarating and so exasperating too. God the Father will help you.

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  2. Robynn, I appreciate this, except I have to take exception to your emphasis and tone in the first point. Knowing how to find a book of the Bible isn’t exactly “trivia.” Young children are like sponges, eager to learn everything we take the time to teach them. That is the ideal time to memorize all kinds of things with them, including books of the Bible, bible verses, bible stories, some of it in songs. They taught us all this and much more in Sunday School when I was young, and yes, we had Bible sword drills. I have never been sorry for the Bible knowledge I gained from those faithful Sunday School teachers. My home was a good home with good parents who taught us how to live. I even got my mouth washed out with soap once! I never used those words again, ever! But it was at church that I learned so much from the Bible. So while I heartily agree that knowing God and being known by Him is far more important, I would ask, does it have to be either/or? It would seem to me that the things that you are dismissing as “trivia” are instead the foundation for not only knowing God, but knowing how He wants us to live, how to find the answers to the most important questions in life in the Bible.
    I’m sure your kids are doing great – I know they have great parents and you are modeling all the right things as you live life with them. So I send this off with my love, dear Robynn.

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    1. Auntie Polly, thank you for your stimulating comments. I do agree it can certainly be both—but I would also agree with your conclusion–in the end I really want my children to know Jesus and to know that they are known by him. That seems more important than being able to find the book of Ezekiel — for that they could use the Table of Contents. There is no such “table” for experiencing the love of God!

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    2. So happy to read your comment. Knowing Bible content from Genesis to Revelation and how everything fits into God’s overall plan for us is vital for knowing who Jesus is and how much He loves us.

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