Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Takes a Village

"The best laid plans of mice and men..." Yesterday I skipped my usual Tuesday cleaning in order to bake. Baking had fallen from the important/non-urgent category to the important/urgent one. It was the boys last night of BSF before Christmas, and I wanted to give their leaders some cookies as a thank you. This involved making 3 kinds of bars, 2 kinds of cookies, and biscotti. I mean, why make one kind when you can make 6?=)

At least when I bake the variety for gifting, we still get all my favorites, just in a much decreased amount. Which is very good for my waistline. Anyway, my plan for today included the cleaning I didn't do yesterday while I was on my baking kick. That was until I went to get my baby girl out of bed. Finding out she got sick during the night derailed those plans. We are now on  to plan C-baths, bedding in the wash, and blogging (holding my baby). And because of the rain, Mr. Hippie is able to watch Meres so I can still teach Bible club. Hopefully no plan D.

Facets of the Hippie Village 

Recently I read a Facebook conversation about how  foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child which is why children act out more when they are with other children their age. The multiplication principle or something. This led to a dozen negative comments about Sunday Schools, youth groups and other peer activities which culminated in a comment about how this particular person would not trust one church in their area with their impressionable preteens and teens. The thought that ran through my head was, "Wow! Really?"

Here's what I'm thinking...First, I think it is my responsibility, and primarily Mr. Hippie's and my responsibility, to train our children.We should have the most influence. And if we don't train them right, who will?

Second, a big parenting goal of ours is to train discerning kids. We want them to be able to choose between right and wrong, and to make wise decisions. This is something I pray about regularly for them. This discernment takes training, and supervision. At this point in their lives we make most decisions for them. But this will gradually change as they grow older. We need to discern between good and evil for them.

Its our responsibility to protect them at this stage of their life. We try to be very careful about what we allow them to watch, and read and who they are allowed to hang out with. But, it is also crucial to realize that our kids are being influenced by all kinds of things everyday-walking through Meijer, ads, music, the environment. Despite our best efforts, unwanted stuff can still trickle in.

So, filtering the influences affecting our kids is a very important job. And what influences them at this impressionable age will stick with them. After all, this is why I am involved in children's work. I believe when you teach a child, you are touching the future. You are planting seeds, that will eventually bear fruit. Whether it is sharing the gospel, teaching character, memorizing verses, life reactions...they have this stuff in their minds forever.

Third, I believe "it takes a village to raise a child." That saying is from Hillary Clinton, and is probably based on an African proverb. But, like a lot of other things, I have my own interpretation of it, which would probably make Hillary's hair curl.=)

Back until 50 or 60 years ago, community was not a foreign concept. Everyone was in each other's business. The world was much smaller. People needed each other. In our global, high tech world, we are self sufficient. We don't need each other.

Well, I'm here to say, I need you. My kids need you. I look to my network of friends and family to love on my kids, teach my kids, influence my kids. I am so thankful for the guys who work for my husband. My kids love them all. They are learning from them that hard work is good. They also get to see them worshipping with us at church, teaching kid's clubs, and serving the Lord in many other ways. That is a very positive thing. My kids want to be like these guys. That's a great goal.

They see the same things from us, their parents. But maybe in a few years when parents aren't so "cool", they will see that we aren't alone in believing all these things. It will continue to be reinforced by friends and family in church and in our community.

As I contemplate this subject of influence, I can't help but think of Hebrews 12:1-the great cloud of witnesses. These are Bible characters, great Christians who have gone before us, and even elder saints who are about done with their race. What a treasure trove of positive influence!

They can share what they have learned as they walked. What they did right, what they did wrong, and how God was faithful. I want my kids to connect with missionaries, both active and former missionaries. I want them to have a global outlook and to understand the needs of people around the world. My travel has been limited, so I am limited in how much I can influence them in this.  But I can provide opportunities for them to be involved with missionaries.

I don't know everything. I am not gifted in everything. I need other people to teach my kids things like art, and music, and....

Finally, we don't ever just drop our kids off at an activity. We keep abreast of what is being taught. That is our responsibility. And we are entrusting each of these groups with a facet of our kids' upbringing. One major influence in our kids lives has been BSF. My kids have all been involved since they were rather young. Each week they get to sit under godly men and women who love Jesus Christ. What a blessing!

Last year LC told me that she wanted to be a BSF leader just like me when she grows up. That made me cry. It would make me so proud to see her teaching other children or leading women in the study of the Word of God, like I do. And I remember being in second grade and wanting to be a BSF leader like my mom.=)

This influence can come through reading biographies, studying the Bible, and talking with other believers. I think parents need to have teachable spirits. We need to realize that we don't know everything, and there is something we can learn from everyone who crosses our paths.

I think it is up to us who/what we are going to allow to influence our kids. We want to pick influences that are similar to what we believe or that fulfill our goals for our kids. The answer isn't to try to raise our kids in a bubble or to completely insulate them from evil. We need to be cautious that we don't foster a better than everyone else mentality in our kids which is often a negative result of isolationism. The answer may be in choosing your village. And praying for wisdom as "teachable moments" i.e. contrary lines of influence intrude.

Who's your village?