I think often about my part in this world as well as my role as a mentor of some sort to the next generation. I question what I’ve always believed, what I think I have been absolutely sure about or what I would say are my core values. Which brings on more questions like: Where did I get my beliefs? (From religion or relationship with God) Do I share the same values as my parents had? And am I as open minded as I think I am?
To my surprise, much has changed within me through the years when it comes to values. Instead of elevating my personal beliefs above others, I have shifted to valuing others without worrying about the fragility of my personal beliefs. What I now realize is, what’s core is core and it will always be a part of what defines me. With that in mind, I’m free to listen and consider the hearts and minds of others. This is what I’ve learned from talking so much with my three emerging adult children. “Listen and listen well because what we have to say mom is not necessarily what you believe.”
I know for certain that having this kind of discourse with my children over the years has made me understand what the next generation needs and it’s not necessarily what we think.
I don’t believe that our children need to be told that they have to carry on our traditions when it comes to spiritual matters. What they do need is to be given the freedom to find their own way just like we did and develop a spiritual life befitting for them. (That comes with trust.) The train up a child in the way he should go scripture could mean to lead by example as well as discourse. I know that the things that I remember most about my parents came from what I witnessed in their behavior, not always what they said.
Once they have reached the age of accountability, they don’t need to be told good from bad and how to behave anymore. They need to develop a conscious for themselves, which may come with some real life trial and error, along with consequences.
And last but definitely not least, they don’t need to be given a broad brush to paint the entire world with. Instead they need the discernment to be able to see people as individuals and to care about them with compassion, which leads to a kinder gentler generation than we are.
What I’m afraid that we have modeled for the next generation is brash behavior, full of judgment and scrutiny over anyone or anything that is different from what we believe or practice. We've shown them that we have more faith in government than humanity or even God. We've drawn lines in the sand clearly marked US vs. THEM and our children have stood by and watched us shout our way into oblivion at one another in order to prove that we are right. Because after all, isn't being right the most important thing?
I have faith in the next generation, more faith than I have in my own. Simply put, we screwed up with our war loving, fist pumping, materialistic, closed mindedness while refusing to back down or humble ourselves to be corrected. Our kids are watching us and the older they get, the more of their own minds will be made up, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Because passing down a mindset that doesn’t allow breathing room for new thoughts or ideas for fear that there will be anarchy is somewhat outdated, not to mention cult-like and paranoid.
The way I see it, God reached out for me when no one else was around to tell me what to do and how to behave and He hasn't changed. So why would I try to mold my children into someone I think they need to be when the one who created us all knows them by name.
The sad reality is, most of us Christians would say that we want our children to be Christ Followers, when in fact we have barely touched the surface of what that truly means for ourselves.
The beauty beyond that fact is that we can all (parents and children together) sit at the feet of Christ and learn what it means to have compassion and love for one another…