If I had to raise children again today, here are just a few of the things I would tell them:
Welcome to the big, wide world! We are your parents. This is your home. And from now on, this is your shelter and your safe space. This is where you can be who you are. This is where you belong. You are ours and we are yours.
Your dad and I are the first people on this planet to lay eyes on you. We are the first to have held you in our arms. And we are the first people to love you. We helped to make you! Our two halves have made your whole. We have literally given you life from our bodies as co-creators with God Himself, and now we will invest all that we are and everything we have into your life so you can fulfill your God-given destiny and have life more abundantly.
We have your best interests at heart. Yes, we will clothe you, and feed you, and make sure you get an education but we will also teach you about who we are, what we know, what we have learned, and what we believe to be true. We will teach you personal responsibility, self-discipline, and respect, and we will not indulge temper tantrums or demands. We will remind you as often as we need to that we are the adults and you are not. You will never be as old as we are. You will never know more than we do and we will not be afraid to say so.
If and when you go to school outside of our home and our oversight, we will discuss the ideas you are taught over the dinner table, and help you decide for yourself whether you agree. We will expect you to learn to think critically and to make decisions based on accurate, valid information but you will not have the autonomy to make every decision for yourself, under our roof, until you have demonstrated discipline, maturity, and the ability to behave responsibly. You can start by making your bed every day.
We will teach you about your heritage and the cultures from which our ancestors came. There are many! We do not identify as a “skin color.” We are all multi-cultural, and your direct bloodlines represent multiple nations. We are not ashamed of those nations, and we do not shame other heritages for what people in the past may or may not have done. We will teach you there is one human race and that skin color does not mean a “different” race. We will also teach you that no one gets a pass or special treatment based on color. We will teach you to judge the quality of every person, starting with yourself, based on character and not on skin color, or on the history of a nation or people, or on the basis of religion.
We will take you to church. We believe in one God, our Father in heaven, and in His one and only begotten Son, who sent the Holy Spirit to us after He rose from the dead to give us life. We derive our moral standards and understanding of ourselves from biblical teachings. We do not pretend the whole world is Christian but we also don’t simply pretend to be Christians ourselves. Instead, we behave like Believers. We are not afraid to share our faith but we don’t demand that others follow it. We are not ashamed to say that we believe Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life. We will ensure you understand you have the right to talk about your faith in any context, and that the concept of the “separation of church and state” in America, was intended to mean keeping the government out of the church, not the other way around.
We will affirm your God-given gender and support your choices based on that biological reality. We will take responsibility for teaching you about sex and sexuality when we decide that you are an appropriate age to be responsible with that information. We will teach you that life begins in the womb and that all life is sacred and deserves to be defended. We will honestly and openly answer any questions you will have about sex but we will not be “educated” by others, or re-educated by anyone about teaching you sexual identity, behaviors, and consequences.
We will make sure you understand that choices have consequences and that not all behavior is acceptable. We will protect and defend you at all times but we will also teach you to admit when you’re wrong, to apologize sincerely and specifically, and to ask forgiveness when you are at fault. We will also teach you to accept a heartfelt apology and forgive the offense.
We will make every effort to raise you to be the very best person you can be: Mature, strong, thoughtful, faithful, honorable, brave, valiant and virtuous. You will be expected to live your own life independently as an adult, to uncover your gifts and talents, to discover your calling, and to do everything to the best of your ability. We will ask you to promise to defend life and liberty, to seek true justice on whatever path you walk, to always remember that you are part of a much bigger picture, and to be mindful that you are accountable for your life and choices.
There is so much more that could be said but these are the basics. Finally, to keep things simple, we will send you on your way with three memorable little sayings we have often relied on ourselves:
- Life is hard. God is good!
- Always tell yourself the truth.
- This, too, shall pass!
- Faith During the Pandemic: Pastor Paula White-Cain - June 22, 2021
- If I had to raise children today… - June 10, 2021