Parenting Young Adults Through Church Choices
It’s all fun and games until you realize that there truly is a generation gap between you and your children. Our kids are mostly adults and teens right now and I am finding myself slammed into the wall of “you’re aging” frequently enough to begin asking myself, “Who I am again?”
I thought identity crises were supposed to happen in Jr. High, High School…even College. But at almost 50?
At first it just made me mad. Why can’t they see things the way that I do? Oh wait, maybe it’s because they’ve never been parents or because they’ve never carried the responsibilities that I do. I want them to sympathize and understand where I’m coming from, but I’ve realized that’s probably NOT going to happen. Even if it does, it will be so far down the road, this discussion will be long forgotten and I’ll be in yet another DIFFERENT season than them.
I’ve always told myself that I want to grow older gracefully. I’ve seen very few people do it well…now i know why. It’s WORK.
Our kids want to play Christian rap while doing the dishes. I’d love to listen to acoustic guitar with NO WORDS.
On a Sunday afternoon, I’d love to be in a quiet house with very little going on except maybe Andy Griffith reruns. As I plop in my chair after fixing a big Sunday afternoon supper, my ears meet with football playing on the tv in the next room and dub step beating upstairs because our son is creating digital music, which he loves.
But something happened recently. We moved across the country 3 months ago and everything here is new to us, and I do mean everything. There’s been great solace in having each other as we walk through all of these changes, but sometimes there are differences of opinion and this is often where this generation gap plays in to the picture.
We were looking for a church to call home. We decided to try a church close by that we can literally walk to. That’s not something we have ever been able to do before because we’ve always lived way out in the country. So we gave it a try.
Let me stop a minute here and say that my husband and I grew up as a Christians, so we’ve been to countless types of churches, but as adults, we’ve pretty much brought our kids mostly to conservative churches with more active worship. So here we are trying a much more traditional church with very intentional liturgy. It was similar to a church I grew up in. I never really saw myself attending a church like this again, but I actually found myself in tears as I sat through the service.
You see, there is so much in my life right now that is new and unfamiliar, that as I participated in this Sunday morning service, I could feel the grounding and anchoring of the roots of my childhood. It brought me back to a time when I felt secure, loved, taken care of…a time when all was right with the world. It was like balm to my soul. It reminded me of just how faithful God has been to me all of these years, raising 8 children, sustaining our 28 year marriage and walking beside me through many, many trials. So much has changed, but HE has NOT.
Our older kids were not quite as enthusiastic about this church choice, but as I explained to them my perspective, I think they actually got it..at least some of it…okay, enough not to look at me like I was from outer space. They still wanted to try another local church that was definitely more “happening”.
So here’s where it can get dicey with older kids. If it were just my husband and me and the two youngest kids, we would be content at the traditional church. My husband and I had our reasons and our two youngest were good with it. In fact, our 12 year old thrived in that church service. I realized because it was so predictable and concrete and it was clear what was happening next because we can follow along in our bulletin, suddenly he became a very active participant. I had never thought of that as being the best thing for him, but GOD knew and it all made sense now!
We agreed to go to the more “happening” church with our older kids because we wanted to be able to participate in that conversation with them…the one where we ask ourselves, “Why do we go to church and what makes a church God honoring?”
Honestly I was having an inner struggle with trying to decide if going to a church because our young adults thrived there was a good reason for my husband and I to go. What were we willing to give up in order to attend church TOGETHER with our kids?
I was also reminded that we were walking out what it looks like to make wise church choices.
So we double timed it. We went to one church and then drove directly to the other and attended that service as well. The beauty of this was that we could make a more effective comparison by attending back to back. Honestly it sounds like the epitome of church shopping, but we did it anyway.
As we sat down with our young adult boys afterwards, my husband and I made a point to ask them lots of questions. It’s important to ask the right questions in order to have an effective conversation. We talked about what true worship is…does it simply speak to the state of humanity or does it cause our eyes to focus on HIM? When our gaze is fully on Him and we are reminded of who HE is, we are then reminded of who WE are in Him. When the pastor gives the message is he equipping the saints with the Word of God by unpacking passages of scripture that show us who God is or is he telling stories, making statements and supporting it with a verse or two?
This day of rest that God made for us, He also said to consecrate it as holy…set apart. It’s time set aside to recalibrate, regroup, rethink and align our hearts with His.
The truth is we MUST give our kids solid roots. That isn’t going to come through entertainment. I’m not saying we can’t use tools that will help our kids absorb good teaching. I’m saying don’t let the tools become the focus and I’m saying that the only way our kids will own their own walk with the Lord is if we set the example, have the conversations and have the kind of relationship with them that gives us the privilege of speaking into their lives for the long haul.
We had the conversation and left the decision up to our older kids as to where they wanted to go (any kids not graduated go where we are going, but they WERE part of the conversation). That meant I had to TRUST…trust that if they decided to go elsewhere, that God would go with them and that He would work in their hearts to bring about His will for their lives.
It’s all part of this crazy parenting gig. Somehow when they are little we are under the delusion that that is the HARDEST time of parenting and it is in some ways, but it slowly becomes more mental and sometimes I get tired of thinking. We also think that when they graduate or turn 18 that our job is done. None of this could be further from the truth. If we do our job well, there’s a good chance that our kids will actually care what we think and want us to speak into their lives. Sometimes that goes well and sometimes it doesn’t and it’s a whole lot of work along the way learning to know when to bite your tongue and when to speak.
God is good and has good in mind for ALL of us. This is something I have to remind myself of regularly. We have to trust in His goodness and His power to work in the deep places of our children’s hearts no matter how old they are, but we can be assured that He is, in fact, at work as we cover our kids in prayer for a lifetime.