Monday, February 20, 2006

Desperate HouseLives III: Poisonous Parenting

One of the most difficult jobs in life is to raise our children. If we look to shows like Desperate Housewives we'll end up with messed up kids and families. Because we're full of toxins.

Test to see if you are ready to be a parent:
* Mess Test: Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the wet flowerbed and rub on the walls. Cover the stains with crayons. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

* Toy Test: Obtain a 55-gallon box of Lego. (If Lego isn't available, you may substitute roofing tacks orbroken bottles.) Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream. (This could wake a child at night.)

* Grocery Store Test: Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

*Dressing Test: Obtain one live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag making sure that all arms stay inside.

* Feeding Test: Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal (such as Fruit Loops orCheerios) into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

* Night Test: Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8 -12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00 PM begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 PM. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 PM. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00 AM. Set alarm for 5:00 AM. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

* Physical Test (Women): Obtain a large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10% of the beans.

* Physical Test (Men): Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store. Go to the head office and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.

* Final Assignment: Find a couple that already has a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training, and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve.

* Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

When Did I Stop Being Barbie & Become Mrs. Potato Head? by Mary Pierce

"It's okay, Mom," she said. "I understand. It's mentalpause."

We have a responsibility that is both an opportunity and a privilege to raise our kids well. We can't do this without God's help. We cannot do this job alone. It takes a church to raise a family, or a child.

Unfortunately our past often gets in the way of our parenting. Our wounds and scars, especially the unresolved ones, cause us to repeat unhealthy patterns from the past. The Bible calls these 'generational sins'.

The Fellowship Of The Ring (Extended Version) Disc 2, Scene 9, 35:23-41:53
As the fellowship descends into the mines of Moria, we have the symbolic journey into our past in order to find healing. In geology as you go deeper under the surface the layers are older, when you cut a tree trunk the rings indicate years gone by and so too, as we explore our past we can take a stand against experiences that have caused us harm and threaten to be passed onto others.

Gandalf: We now have but one choice: We must face the long dark of Moria. Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.

Gandalf: I have no memory of this place...

Gandalf: A Balrog. A demon of the ancient world. This foe is beyond any of you. Run!

Gandalf: Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!!

I don't know what your generational family junk is/was. I know that in my family we had several: There was a history of alcohol & drug abuse. My next oldest brother died of an overdose 10 years ago on the street. My other 2 older brothers have suffered much from this in the past to the present.

There was a history of infidelity, from my father & I've seen it in my brothers. Marriages estranged, children set against parents, destroyed families and relationships.

I have covenanted to let God do whatever work He needs to do in my life to keep these from poisoning my children and their children.

You may have had a similar background of hurts, just of a different sort. Violence, as in spankings, beatings affect many. Outbursts of anger, withholding of love, the list seems endless.

I recall a friend of mine recounting the story of his father: when he was 9, he was combing with his own dad, my friend's grandfather. The 9 year old made a mistake and was so verbally abused by his own dad that he peed his pants. When my friend heard this story about his dad, he began to understand why his dad was prone to anger and emotional withdrawal.

Sadly sexual abuse haunts many adults, too. The list could go on. Our work is to go deep and let the healing come through Jesus.

You can't heal, though, what hasn't been discovered.

Those demons of the deep will cripple our parenting and us if we won't yield to Jesus and his power. That doesn't mean it's easy. Like Gandalf we will have to let an old identity die, and let Jesus resurrect the freed person He desires us to be.

Children do suffer for their parent's sins,

Jeremiah 32:18

You are loving and kind to thousands, though children suffer for their parents' sins.All you have to do to verify this is watch an episode of any talk show to see the effects of this.

Children, however, do not pay for their parent's sins.

2 Kings 14:6

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins"

You are not being held accountable for the sins of your fathers, even if you are suffering because of those sins. A person who never felt his father's love and approval is not responsible for their father's sin, even though it hurts.

If we don't take a stand against the wounds of the past we will likely create toxic environments in our parenting. We'll help form children that become what sociologists call "kidults" who live in "Adultescence".

Kidults are self-absorbed. Everything is a means to feed their own selfish desires, whether it's college, parents, a job, a girlfriend/boyfriend, or even a church. If something threatens to get in the way, like marriage, family, or other responsibilities, they just avoid it. Besides, if they can get many of the worldly benefits of those things without the cost of commitment, why commit?

Or well meaning parents facilitate The Pampered Child Syndrome: a child, who has never been taught to wait, and has no tolerance for frustration. Delayed gratification and instruction from parents is the only way to overcome this. It's hard to do if you've never done it!

As a parent we need to be tour operators as opposed to travel agents for our kids: I've never learned to deal with my impulses but you should. Here are your tickets, tell me when you get there!

The proper way is to understand what we've gone through to deal with our issues and look for appropriate ways to guide our children, realizing that some things have changed.

If we won't deal with this idea we create an environment of entitlement and it ultimately leads to a selfish consumerism: it's all about me Jesus!

Rick Diamond in Wrestling with God says, "We're part of a culture that encourages running rather than wrestling."

You shall not pass!

Running is symbolic of our need for instant gratification. We don't want the hard work or time for wrestling so we run and we escape. Allowing for that is to create a poisonous atmosphere.

Listen to what Bill O'Reilly says about some of today's music: Eminem's lyrics justify immediate gratification on all levels. If your girlfriend does you wrong, kick her in the stomach. If your mother gives you a hard time, call her a dirty name. If you want to get high -- go right ahead.

The corporate charlatans who peddle this pernicious rap crap tell us that they are giving a "voice" to the disenfranchised. But what they are really doing is contributing to the cycle of poverty. If they truly wanted to hear from the "disenfranchised," they'd put out how-to-succeed books and tapes by poor people who have made it. Hundreds of teachers have written to me saying that their young students emulate rappers in speech, dress and attitudes. Thus, we now have 10-year-old boys calling little girls "b_s." We have 13-year-olds with tattoos and body piercing. We have poor children without parental guidance selling dope and carrying guns.

Sure, we've always had teenage rebellion in this country. But now the bar has been dropped to the lowest level in our nation's entertainment history. Now it's OK to rap about abusing women, smoking crack and solving problems with a gun.

Scripture is full of Poisonous Parenting, like we see in Desperate HouseLives and hear in music.

Genesis 25:28

Isaac loved Esau in particular because of the wild game he brought home, but Rebekah favored Jacob.

Favoritism. It raised its ugly head in the Joseph story, too.

Genesis 37:4

But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father's partiality. They couldn't say a kind word to him.

In his book Tired of Trying to Measure Up, Jeff VanVonderan says, "We all need an environment where we feel our needs are met because of who we are not because of what we do."

What we 'do' to gain acceptance is the 'House of Pleasing God', and the key to the gate is self-effort and performance. That's like a pace-setting environment.

VanVonderan goes on to say, "Quite often people try, with the best of intentions, to help themselves or their loved ones through a problem or crisis, only discover that the help is not helpful, or even harmful. They find themselves supporting and helping to prolong on the outside, the very thing they do not support on the inside. Individuals and families become dysfunctional by accident. But they get well on purpose."

A poisonous environment brings death to the children. We need an environment of grace and trust that allows kids to grow up into being everything that God intended.

Curtis Martin, in his acceptance speech for the Bart Starr Award, said his faith in God helped him overcome a rocky beginning to his life, including family and friends being killed when he was young and an abusive home situation where his dad regularly beat his mom.

"I always thought I would die before I was 21, but I appreciate life now and I do realize we have a God who forgives whatever we can do."

Think of David's family of origin, and how his parenting went later in his life. Incest, murder, and heck it even sounds like Desperate HouseLives!

If you don't feel like you had patterns handed down from your family I celebrate this with you. Your challenge becomes not turning into the older brother, or older sister, of the Prodigal Son story. Remember him from Luke 15? He gets jealous and misses the grace of God offered through His father towards the wayward brother. Remember what he says?

Luke 15:30

Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have.'

They never talked about the prodigal's lifestyle. Was perhaps the older son envious? Was he gossiping? Fantasizing? Whatever the situation he missed the move of God. If you're from a good stable home, celebrate that with gratitude. God is likely intending for you to share yourself with others.

It takes a church to raise a family.

"Why does God allow pain in our life? Because we're loved by God and the pain allows us to head back to our Father." Tony Dungy, speaking at the Super Bowl about the suicide of his 19-year-old son James

Three questions to focus on as we close:

1. What do you want your children to become? I'm speaking now of their identity more than their 'work.'

2. Where are they presently?

3. What can you do to help them make the next step?

Proverbs 22:6

Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

The opposite of Poisonous Parenting is found in Colossians.

Colossians 3:12-25

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.

You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly. You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord. Fathers, don't aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying. You slaves must obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Obey them willingly because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil.

Joshua 24:15b

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

Isaiah 55:1a, 2b

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;...Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

I'll never forget the relief I felt when my wife said, "I just want a spiritual companion, not a leader." Louis McBurney

1 Thessalonians 5:11

"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. "


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