Raising Children to Counter the Culture

I’m not raising my kids to be safe. Oh, sure, we wear our helmets and our seat belts, but from the moment they are placed in my arms, I’m preparing them for the Leaving. We’re raising these little lives with hope that they will follow Christ. And we’re absolutely positive that will lead them to Dangerous Places. So while they briefly grow in our home, we tuck them up close and fill their heads and ears with stories of God’s faithfulness to carry them wherever they go. These stories are the Legacy I will give to my children: stories that teach them about a true and faithful God and how He relates to them. We eat most of our meals as a family. We sit around our giant table and the kids ask us to tell them stories of “the old days.” Sometimes that means two weeks ago, but other times, they want to know who we were before we were Mommy and Daddy. We tell them about our childhoods, our own testimonies of growing in faith. They like to hear the silly memories, but they benefit just as much from the bittersweet that lies in our history. With each story, we strum the same song of God’s faithfulness, His sweet mercy and kindness, His protection and favor.

I’ve blogged for over a decade, piling up stories like the rock piles Joshua built on the other side of the Jordan – So We Do Not Forget His Faithfulness. My kids giggle over their own early antics, but they also appreciate reading the stories I wrote about our years of infertility and loss before our population exploded. They see their story all woven in with mine and how the thread of God’s mercy binds it all together. I remind them that they are God’s blessing to us, His grace to two undeserving people.

We carefully show them their own crooked family tree, the grafted branches and the ones that look broken beyond repair. We show them God’s faithful hand in each story, each member of their legacy. We talk about loving our earthly family, our church family, and the perfect love of the heavenly Father, who loves us beyond our twisted limbs.

We school our children at home, studying the stories of past cultures and heroes. With each new discovery, we examine something my own father drilled into me – World View. We ask what other people and cultures believed about:

  • Where they came from?
  • Why are they here?
  • Who is in charge
  • And what are the rules
Those four questions inform every decision, every story in existence. We hold those views up to our own World View based in Scripture, discussing where they differ and why. We’re teaching our kids to recognize Truth from lies, the Redemption in the story of the world, and how even the most rebellious souls and bad guys could find grace in repentance.

In the evenings, when we’ve swept up the myriad of crumbs from the day, we gather in the living room to read. My husband reads literature first, right now it’s Anne of Green Gables. Not all of our children will immediately understand the rich depths of these books, but we hope one day they grow to love the beauty of the language and the narrative. We don’t shy away from the hard stories, the uncomfortable moments in great works of literature. They provide concrete examples to talk to our kids about the world, world view, and what the Gospel says about it. We hold even pure fiction up to the Truth and see what insight it brings us.

We say good night with Scripture. Sometimes it is the parents who are weak, who want to rush through the Bible reading to get to bedtime. But these moments to talk and wonder over Truth with our kids are fleeting. We want to take every opportunity we can to talk about following Jesus – with all its danger and desperate dependence on Him.

Finally – when the kids are in bed and the dishwasher hums in the background, my husband and I face the End of Day questions – How much of today’s poor parenting will they remember? How will we ever surmount that difficulty with this child?… It drives us to our knees…

Not all of our babies follow Christ yet. Their struggle for Truth is sometimes written all over them and the life of this family. And the ones who do follow – they labor next to their sinful parents for mastery over the old self, to walk in love in a household full of broken people…

So as man and wife, we end our day with hands clutched together and hearts united in prayer for mercy, for favor, for strength, for wisdom.

And then we start a new day – new stories to tell, new Story to live. We’re crafting a Legacy, woven with threads of stories and Gospel. I can’t send my kids out the door in bubble wrap, but I can wrap them up in their Legacy of Truth and Faithfulness and believe that what I’ve forgotten or mis-taught, He is faithful to guide and teach them without my broken help.

Gospel-parenting is not Safe. But it is Good. It is True. And He is Faithful.
By Lora Lynn Fanning

Lora Lynn Fanning is a wife, a mother of seven, and a member of The Church at Brook Hills, where her husband, Andrew, serves as an elder. She home-schools the children, and in her “free time” blogs at Vitafamilae.

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