The groom’s cake at our wedding was a house split down the middle with a Detroit Lions logo on one side and a Pittsburgh Steelers logo on the other. It read “officially a house divided.”
Following different teams has not typically caused any issues for us, but that all changed when we found out we were expecting. Which team would we raise our kids to follow? After all, I am the bigger football fan, but the Steelers are clearly the better franchise. This has been played up so much that on our son’s first Christmas, my parents bought a Lions AND a Steelers onesie, and had a tailor split them down the middle and create TWO Lions/Steelers combination onesies. What it comes down to is that we love our teams and want our son to love them, too.
Isn’t that the case with all of us? I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone make the statement, “Yep, I’m going to raise my kids right. Three years old and already quoting Star Wars,” or “My parents raised me right, on good music, not that stuff that we had when we were kids.” In the past I may have even given our toddler decaf coffee to start training his palette early! We all want to raise our kids to value what we see as valuable.
But somehow, our culture values “non-imposing” parenting. Somehow the message has sunken in that we are to “not impose” our beliefs on our kids. We are to let them learn and let them think for themselves. Despite the fact that we obviously don’t carry it out consistently (see above), I wonder how helpful this mentality even is. I truly believe kids are much sharper than any of us grown ups give them credit for, but I can’t help but question whether this is poor logic.
Seemingly, the only place we apply this “thinking for themselves” mentality is in the most important areas of life. We are more than happy to impose on our kids superficial preferences. After all, our generation’s music is always superior to our kids’ music, and we want them to appreciate good artistry. I even heard one parent lay out the plan for exposing his child to Star Wars. “Well, I want him to be old enough to appreciate it, so I will start him when he’s four. And I also want him to see how the series developed, so – at least at first – I’m going to start on ‘the original three’ and then go back for the newer prequels…”
Confession: We have had many conversations about when is an appropriate time to expose our kids to Harry Potter. Because it’s awesome.
Let’s face it, these things, as much as we love them, are superficial. (I know, I know. Except Star Wars).
The things that really matter in life are the areas where we are just more prone to let our kids “figure it out.” We refuse to shape the way they approach the nature of man, the way the world works, what they expect from people and life. We let them figure out their own views on sexuality and relationships because we wouldn’t want them to think there were too many rules and rebel when they grow up. We fail to be good examples of money management. We fail to show them what a vibrant faith in God looks like and just hope they find “spirituality” somewhere.
If all I have to show for my parenting relationship with Cade is a similar affinity for the teams I like and the music of my youth, I have failed him as a parent. My job as his Dad is to reveal to him how to navigate the world. In my case, that begins with a strong conviction that there is one God and that he has revealed himself to his creation through the Bible. It means teaching him humility and repentance as a default heart state. It means teaching him that sexual activity is only to be enjoyed (and is enjoyed best) in a monogomous, covenanted marriage with his wife. It means showing him that men are fallen but that he is too, so not to think he’s better than anyone. It means showing how to love a creator that first loved us.
Whatever your worldview is, chances are you have come to it with some thought and have some conviction about it. Our job as parents is to lead our children to have accurate views of the world (*whatever you have assessed that accurate view to be*) and let their preference fall to things like entertainment, food and fashion. Except Kentucky Basketball—because I have to raise my kid right.