Desensitize My Kids?!

Throwback Thursday from 5/8/2013

I was participating in a women’s prayer meeting at a church where I was relatively new. Until that day, I regularly offered prayer for others, but rarely requested any for myself. As my children began Middle School, I realized that it would take the proverbial village to protect my kids from the stunning corruption widespread among American youth.

That morning I mustered up the courage to ask for prayer that my kids would not grow desensitized, but remain kindhearted despite the shocking revelations that they are eventually exposed to at that age. I had recently confirmed for them that, “Yes, one German man and his team of assassins murdered multiple millions of people. Yes, Edgar Allen Poe’s writings are disgusting and disturbing. Yes, several men flew airplanes into buildings wanting to kill Americans.” The Holocaust, 9/11, and murder-filled literature, were upsetting to my 11-year old twins. They had also experienced their first pains of meanness from other kids.

Relieved that I had asked the women to lift up my kids in prayer, I experienced a temporary feeling of peace about the changes that Middle School had brought.

Pushing in my chair to leave, a 50-something, confident woman approached me. I expected her to confirm her intent to pray on my behalf. Instead, she blurted, “Your kids need to get desensitized.” Huh? I was confused, slight angry, and embarrassment rose up in my cheeks. Noticing my facial contortions, she offered, “I retired early last year, having been a Middle School Principal for many years.”

I stared at her without response.

“It’s just that the world is a terrible place and kids are awful. Your kids need to be desensitized or everything is going to bother them.”

Finding my tongue, I retorted, “not everything is going to bother them, but injustice, prejudice, and blatant violence against others should trouble them. I don’t want them to ignore or walk away from such things. I want them to be responsive toward others.”

She smiled at me in a condescending way, patted my hand and said, “Well, I’m just telling you from experience that it’s better if they get desensitized.”

My mind was outraged and my feelings hurt. I had expended terrific effort to train three kids to care. I was not about to conform to the ways of this world in a lazy, irresponsible effort to create more zombies. All that came to mind at that moment was the group of teens who watched, cheered, videotaped and photographed the brutal beating of one of their “friends”. Then, they uploaded the unconscionable horror to YouTube. While I know that level of degeneracy is rare, the day to day lack of sensitivity is rampant in Middle Schools and High Schools across the nation.

One of the great battles for Christians (unless they are the sort who cut themselves off from contemporary life) is to remain kind when they’ve had a string of wrongs hurt them over the years. In addition to the unforeseen events like earthquakes, hurricanes, and illness, we unfortunately also endure heart trauma by the entirely avoidable meanness of others. It is natural to grow hardened.

All humans make big mistakes and bad decisions. We err and say hurtful things. The difference between desensitized and remaining sensitive, is remorse. The desensitized person doesn’t experience regret, sorrow or repentance. There is no reflecting or pondering or consideration of the consequences.

Despite the bad advice of the retired principal, I choose to continue the hard work of raising three human beings who care. My intent isn’t to shield them. I encourage “speaking up”, even to those in authority, when appropriate. All of my kids play competitive travel sports and are not ones to shrink back from conflict when necessary.

They are acutely aware of the world’s evil, feel sad when they are treated unjustly, but always move forward strong and confident. I’ll never believe that desensitizing children so they feel little, if any, compassion, is wise or responsible parenting.

 

 

I Can’t Be All Things To My Kids

Gulp. I said it. Once upon a time, I really believed I was all things to my kids.  That is probably normal for young Moms with small children. Or, maybe I was just an egomaniac, but I’m going with the fact that I was young and inexperienced. I hadn’t yet been confronted with the reality that God-given “free will” would be exercised by my kids and would radically reduce my self-appointed self-importance.

When my three children were 0-12, I taught them everything. Well, they went to school at five, but I taught them to know God, to read, count, write, like themselves and others, use good manners, play… Let’s not forget I clothed, fed and watered them.  As they became teenagers, I conducted all the “talks”, and 100% of the time, I’ve been the disciplinarian. I hate that role most of all. My husband doesn’t engage in those responsibilities, so I’m the meanie.  But, curiously, I’m also the first to receive the good stuff, which might be a post topic all its own someday.

The first blow to my prideful, Mom-is-in-control-of-these-kids attitude happened when my son was in the 8th grade. If you read Moms of Teen Boys: Be Encouraged, you know that it was a tough time for me. Now that he’s 17, I’m quite positive I wouldn’t be nearly as devastated if I were to experience that season in his life all over again. Why? For many reasons, but the bottom line is: when children begin stretching their wings, they test the boundaries.

My son testing the boundaries included lying (the #1 no-no), and doing something that we specifically asked him not to do (nothing earth-shattering or harmful, but nonetheless defiant). In response, I spun myself into a web of insanity setting new rules and giving him extra-long chore lists. When his moodiness prevailed, I changed gears and became so sweet, offering kindness at every turn, hoping it would catch on.

After my determined efforts and the usual consequences of revoked privileges did not generate any remorse, my son was delivered the news he dreaded most of all: “We’re sending you to church camp. For a week.  Away from your nest.”

That boy’s face went white and tearful apologies began pouring out of him. If I wasn’t so wrapped up in the months-long shock of watching my sweet, sensitive, always-eager-to-please, golden-boy change into a moody, defiant teen, I would have laughed out loud. He wouldn’t even sleep over at a friend’s house, let alone go away with a relatively new youth group. He needed to always be surrounded by people he knew, and most people thought he was the bomb (a.k.a. – very cool dude).  Now, he would have to establish himself with a foreign crowd and what I believed most valuable: he would be uncomfortable.

With me, he was way too comfortable. Every time I thought my new “idea” for discipline or just establishing some “kindness rules” would turn him around, I was seriously mistaken. I foolishly thought I could make him change. I was thinking way too highly of myself.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe that parents are the most powerful influence in a teenager’s life. I unequivocally do. No matter how much eye-rolling happens, values are absolutely established and engrained in the home life of teenagers.

My son packed for camp with pleading eyes. Professions of obedience were made. Glimpses of the golden boy appeared countless times the week before he departed. All of this made me sincerely wonder if I had made a grave mistake and of course, I just battered myself even more, feeling unsure and worried. Tears streamed down my face as the giant coach bus pulled away.

He arrived home from camp in brighter spirits than we had seen him in months. He met a friend there that today is one of his best buddies. Let me not deceive you that camp cured all boundary-pushing. It did not. However, that experience did teach my son several lessons, and it taught me a few things.

My first realization was that the “little years” were over. Mine were no longer young children who only needed Mommy. During the teen years, new experiences and leaving the circle of comfort are crucial to their development and confidence.

More importantly, where did I place God in my parenting efforts? Did I sincerely trust Him? Did I honestly believe He was helping to raise and even discipline my kids when necessary? No, not really. I can’t be all things to my kids, but God can orchestrate circumstances and friendships and events to teach and nurture my children in ways that I never could. Great relief flowed over me when I accepted as truth that I’m not alone in this parenting business.

The Jesus Bible (for kids): Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Jesus BibleBook Review (I’ve included photos below): I have viewed countless children’s bibles over the years, and The Jesus Bible (NIV), Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible is terrific! Although the stated age group is 9-12, this bible could also be shared with children a couple of years older and younger.

A few truly excellent features include:

  • 365 daily devotions which are located on every few pages.
  • At the beginning of each book there is a page outlining items such as, “Where is Jesus in this book?” “Who wrote this book?” and “What are some of the stories in this book?”
  • My favorite: super-short prayers on every three pages or so, which are extremely age-appropriate. These teach children to speak to God with gratitude and informality.

Other study helpers at the back of the book include:

  • Table of weights and measures.
  • An index of the devotions located throughout the bible for easy reference.
  • Index of “Hints of the Savior/Jesus Revealed” throughout the Old Testament.
  • Concordance and maps.

Being a hardcover, once you crack the spine, the bible lays open nicely. I was showing it to my 15-year old daughter and mentioned that a soft cover option would be nice. She reminded me that all my kids had hardcover bibles in their younger years, and she preferred them.

In summary, since Amazon does not have the “look inside” option, I have provided a few photos that I hope will be helpful. I requested this from Booksneeze (provided in exchange for my honest review) to share this with my godson. I believe he will love it! IMG_4748 IMG_4747 IMG_4746 IMG_4750 IMG_4749