Beautiful Monsters

Beautiful Monsters
Beautiful Monsters

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mitigating High Risk Behavior in Teens - A Parent's Perspective

My son was  given a writing project for health class about high risk behavior in teens.   One of the prompts was to discuss what parents can do to prevent high risk behavior in teens. Upon reviewing my student’s method of mitigating high risk behavior, I am reminded of a method for discipline we used to use in youth recreation, where we let the children choose their own consequences for breaking rules.  It was always much harsher than the ones we would have given, allowing us to dial back their self-imposed penance.  We disciplined the child and still managed to look like the good guy.  

His response was to isolate the teen from peer contact.  This put me back in summer camp with those over the top consequences kids would choose.   I thought it might be interesting to address this from a parent’s perspective. 

My first defense in keeping my children from making dangerous choices is to try to ensure that they know they are loved – wildly, deeply, uncontrollably and irrevocably loved.  By me, and by their heavenly Father.  Love is the foundation that any and all other actions must be built on.   I try to tell them every day, every chance I get, that I love them.   I try to NOT tell them like I say “turn off the lights”, but to smile it from my heart at them.  I tell them when I am deliriously happy, and when I am abjectly sad, and when I am completely furious, and sometimes out of the blue when we are just doing nothing. I hug them and kiss their cheeks and touch their shoulders in church and sing at them and post embarrassing stuff on facebook and watch movies I have no interest in seeing just to hang out with them and a thousand other small things.  In all times, in all emotions, in every way, they are loved.  

The second layer of this protection is to make sure that my children clearly know what is expected of them.  I expect them to represent themselves in a manner that will honor themselves, our family and our God.  There is no “boys will be boys”, because these are young men.  I talk honestly and openly about the different choices they can make and the consequences that will happen.  If you speed, we can’t afford car insurance, and you don’t get to drive until you are 18 and have your own policy.  If you don’t take care of your grades, you will be ineligible for these colleges and these scholarships.  If you engage in premarital sex, you have violated covenant with God and already with the wife you haven’t even met yet.  If you drink, you could end up doing something stupid, and going to prison for the rest of your life, and be ineligible for the military, these colleges, these programs, etc.  Plus you lose my trust.  If you drive carelessly, and die, you will destroy a part of your mother’s soul.  If you take care of your grades, all of these choices are available to you after high school.  If you treat women respectfully, they will adore you in return.  If you stand for what you believe, you will be respected for it in the long run.   And so on.  Not in lecture form (usually) but in the course of life.  Decisions they make as teens affect the rest of their lives in big ways, and I want them to be so very aware of that. You only live once, as it is popular to say.  Why waste that life on stupid choices now for the rest of that one very precious life?  Because they are aware of actions resulting in consequences, their actions are treated as purposeful choices.    Young men stand accountable for their actions. 

The third tier is to cover all of that with a thick coating of grace.   They are teenagers.  Their minds aren’t fully formed.  They are discovering and developing who and what they are going to be as adults.  When they were little, I was the sheepdog of my flock, herding them this way and that, making darn sure they stayed safe.  Now that they are in this transforming stage of life, my job is to stand guard on the hill, where I can see big threats coming and react accordingly, but giving them room to get bumped and banged up a little.  Grace helps me to know that this isn’t personal.  I can’t become a man for them, so they have to pull away more and more from me as they work out their own becoming.  My job isn’t to hold their hand as they walk the balance beam of childhood, it is to be the safety net under this tightrope walk in-between stage.  Grace allows me to accept the mistakes they make, the times they fall, the hurtful, hormone fueled words that come out of their mouths when we are all talking, but no one feels heard.  Grace gives me room to make mistakes, too, and admit those and ask forgiveness and move forward again.  This is something I am still working on.  It is to let them be THEM, and not who I see them being.  None of my kids sees themselves in the career I think would be perfect for them.  None of them is drawn to girls that I think would be perfect.  They don’t like the same genres of books, and we have different ideas of fun.  They have their own take on school, and homework and grades and what learning looks like.  And that is good.  I am learning to let go of my vision of who I thought they would grow up to be when they were still littles, and to enjoy being a part of who they are actually going to grow up to be.   

My fourth layer is to be involved.  To let them have their space, but to know who they are with, and to get to know who they are with.  To let them tell me what they did, and how and where and why.  To trust them when they tell me where they will be.  To go to games and talk to teachers and friend’s parents and their co-workers.  Not to be nosy, but to stay in touch with their lives. To let them out of my world, and show them the respect of being interested in theirs.   To check out what they are reading, and look at the pictures they take – a little insight into what interests my kids, and what caught their eye enough to want to remember it on film.   To hear their dreams and hopes without discouraging them from that – life will do that on it’s own.  Right now, it is a whole big world. 

The last line of defense is my authority as the parent.  When all else fails, I am still the mom, and I hold veto power.  Over the years we have built up respect and trust and communication, and in this last year, I have had to make some hard decisions about things they were doing or wanted to do that the kids didn’t like.  But I explained why, and we talked, and in the end, they didn’t like it, but they honored them. They need someone who is able to make the hard decisions so they don’t have to.  No, you can’t go to the sale barn on a Saturday night where there will be pot and beer.  I trust you not to use it, but you don’t need to be in that environment.  No, you can’t go with that friend who just got his license on a three hour road trip.  No, that isn’t appropriate viewing material.  My job is still, when it is extreme, to make the hard decisions, the bad ones, the ones that they shouldn’t have to shoulder just yet.  However even though I don’t turn them loose to chaos and anarchy because they are now in high school, it is my job to release a little more of that authority every year, so that they can see where they are gaining autonomy as they grow in responsibility and are able, as adults to shoulder the complete load on their own.

I figure it like this.  I give them the foundation of love, of family, of home.  I want my kids to know completely that they are a part of a family, they are loved as they are, that they belong somewhere.   Family cannot and should not replace friends and interaction with the outside world, but I want them to have a place they can come home to and heal and rest and regenerate before they go back out into the world.  They are given the vehicle of choices paired with responsibility for the outcome of those choices.  They don’t have to sneak or take stupid risks to prove that they are capable of making choices.   They are able to act independently, and responsibly.  They are given the freedom to explore and succeed or fail.  They can try on new experiences, and I will be there if they fall.   They are given the ability to lead lives of their own, and I am interested in those, instead of keeping them in my world.  I will branch out and be supportive and interested in the people they are.  And I will take the brunt of the hard parts, because I am MOM, and that's just what we do. 

I was glad my son was assigned this topic to write on.  It made me think a bit, and be more concrete about the plan to get these boys raised.   I hope someday we can look back at these teenage years, and think we did a pretty good job of raising and training up each other!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chicken Thankful

I never thought that chickens could teach me a whole lot.  But I suppose if God can use Balaam's donkey, He can use these silly chickens.

I took some oldish vegetables, and dinner scraps, and fruit and a few other things that got frozen in the back of my fridge so it was all mushy and my kids wouldn't eat it, and tossed it out the chickens.  Those funny birds acted like Jesus had come back on Christmas morning with pink unicorns and Klondike bars.   It was the BEST DAY EVER.  They ran around, they clucked and flapped their wings.  I kid you not, some of them danced.  They were so impressed with my TRASH .... it was the most amazing gift, they loved them so much, life really couldn't get better for them at that exact moment.  

Life can be hard.  I almost added, "especially as a single mom" but that isn't fair.  Other people struggle in many, many ways, and to imagine that my struggle is any more than someone else's when I am SO BLESSED is pride and vanity, really.  But my struggles are mine, and therefore provide my frame of reference for "life being hard".

I can catch myself giving thankful lip-service.  My head knows I am blessed beyond most of the world's most far-flung expectations.  So I say I am grateful, and really wish for MORE.  Children who aren't just wonderful and amazing, but who really enjoy cleaning their rooms and hate sleeping in.  A car big enough to carry the kids and their friends, but also gets 38 miles a gallon and doesn't raise my insurance rates.  A house that is not only huge and roomy, but designer-worthy and with a self-mowing lawn.  Not just friends and family who love me and a general contentedness with my life, but a perfectly conjured husband also.  And on, and on.

But really!  How extravagant to have chickens!  How lavish to have scraps to give to them!  We don't just have enough, we have SCRAPS!  How wonderful my life, my boys, my job, my friends, my church, my family are!  And here I am, grudgingly grateful.

I need to be more like the chickens.  This next breath is the BEST BREATH EVER!  And this day is PERFECT!   I want to be so thankful for each moment, I want to run (okay, well maybe walk faster), and flap my wings and not be able to control my cackling praise and dance!  It doesn't matter if the things I am blessed with are ordinary, every day things, they are mine, given to me by my Father, who gives me Good Gifts.

I even want to get excited about the trash.  One of the best discussions I have ever had with one of my kids came after an argument, when we were both so broken from the conflict that we were able to sit down and just be real.  A teenage boy, sharing his heart, with me - his totes uncool mom!  (Is that still a thing? Did I spell it right?)  A day spent one on one with my youngest after their dad took over my plans to go a tournament with the olders.  Financial trouble teaching my kids about the real value of money, and what in life is really valuable.  Hand me down pajamas that work just fine.  Even the things that I wouldn't choose, the trash, as it were, are gifts.  I just have to unwrap them and find out how.

So I think I will make it a habit to take something up to the chickens, when I have time to sit and watch them love it.  I want to celebrate the little moments, the ordinary things, the exciting things, and the trash with joy and glee and true thankfulness.  I want to be unashamed about who sees me running about and thanking my Provider.

 Humph. About to graduate from college (16 years late) and being taught the big lessons by some not-so-silly-after-all chickens.

Matthew 7:11  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

James 1:17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who do you say that I am?

 I got a new (to me) car. I intended to go buy a barebones, no bells or whistles, will do for the next five years and will haul 6 kids car.  I ended up with a fully loaded, pristine, beyond my dreams, with every button you can think of car.  Seriously, it is a nice car.  It is so nice, I feel kind of guilty having it.  I am seriously outclassed - by an inanimate object.  So I already felt a bit like I had to be extra nice to this car, to make up for being owned by a mess like me.

I should have found an older, less shiny, less fancy vehicle.

EVERYONE wants to let me know that this is a nice car, and I had best live up to it. And I have a whole passel of folks who love me, and have decided to take up the plight of this poor, poor car that has no idea what it has just gotten into.  They love me and know that there are things that I just don't know about cars and want to help me to keep this car for a long time. But I wrestle with it.  I could mention here that I have been kind of depressy lately anyway... it doesn't take much to swing me.

I was telling my friends about my new ride at a dessert gathering, and one of them, a lady who I know loves me very much, and I her, read me the riot act about taking care of this car.  She said to me, "You aren't known for taking good care of vehicles." One of the biggest reasons I love her is that she has a gift for speaking truth without being mean about it. And her statement is mostly true.  I do have a standing appointment with my friend the tire and oil guy once a month to have the fluids and tires checked.  But I don't see the point of keeping them shiny, or fussing too much over them, or anything we own, really.  In my mind, it is stuff.  I don't want to be owned by my stuff.  The furniture is all hand me down, and none of it matches, dust particles are hosting family reunions on my bookshelf, my chair is held together with duct tape, and I am a champion dandelion grower.  I am not saying I don't care at all, and don't make an effort, but I am not going to devote my evenings and weekends to making sure that my stuff looks as nice as other people's stuff, and my lawn passes the neighbors' muster.  I like dandelions.  I like tall grass. (And I think making something grow so someone has to spend an afternoon mowing it back down is stupid.)  I want to do other things, be with other people.  I want to read and sew and play games with my kids and cook for folks, and-and-and.  I am probably just lazy, and justifying it all, but that is how I look at it, at least in my own head.

Her words hit a nerve though, because I did keep regular checkups done on my last few cars.  ( I am telling you.  I have the kiss of death for anything with a motor.)  I  had already resolved to keep the car usually washed and vacuumed.  And my son might have been teasing me a week or so ago about no one liking me.  He doesn't know.  I DO know he was yanking my chain, about one issue in particular, but I internalized all the same. And I started thinking about what else I am known for.

I am not known to be kind to motorized objects.
I am not known to have a nice yard.
I am not known as a good housekeeper.
I am not known to be timely.
I am not known to dress well.
I am not known as a beauty.
I AM known to be able to fully dress a teenage boy, chonies out,  from the contents they have previously left in my car.
I am not known to be organized.
I am not known to be sweet or obedient.
I am not known to be well liked by everyone.
I am not known to be tolerant of kids who treat my kids poorly.
I am not known to worry about the stuff on the porch.
I am not known to be cautious with my opinions.
I am not known to be handy, or sporty or outdoorsy.
I am not  known to know how to do a lot of things that folks who were not raised in the city assume everyone knows.
I am not known to be on the ball, humble or respected.

I could go on.  I am not a perfect person.  I am not even a slightly good person.  I am just me. I am a mess.  In my mind, a good mom meets all of these "standard" criteria, and I meet none of them. I had to think hard on this, or throw in the towel and give up on everything, hide in a closet and eat ice cream until I was too big to fit through the doorway and had to be tow trucked out.

God, being the amazing Father He is, spun it for me real quick.  

Matthew 16:13 - 16  13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Jesus asked Peter who other people were saying that He was.  I am fairly sure that, being God and all, He already knew.The story is in what comes next.  He followed that up with BUT, who do YOU say that I am?  I think the point is that there is a difference, a sharp difference, in who other people were saying Jesus was, and who we each individually say that He is.   God showed me that I could turn this around also.  I know who men say that I am.  I know every negative trait I have, and which ones are most obvious to the people in my world.  The real question, the one that needs to be asked after everyone else's opinions have been acknowledged, is to ask God, "WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?"

He says I am loved.
He says I am forgiven.
He says I am free.
He says I am created to be uniquely me.
He says I am redeemed, I am perfect, because I am seen through the light of Christ's sacrifice.
He says I am enough.
He says I am loveable.
He says I am important.
He says I am useful.
He says I am worthy.

I am not the Christ, but I am Kimberly, the daughter of the living God. And that is enough.  And whenever I get all hung up over what "men say that I am" , I am going to try to remember who  God says that I am. And if I forget, I will just ask Him.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Beautiful Scars

Growing up, when it was time to get out the old, plastic tube or woven canvas tri-folded lawn chairs, my dad would come show us his finger.  EVERY TIME.  Because when he was a kid, a chair JUST LIKE THAT snapped it off.  Even though the doctors were able to reattach it, it was a little crooked, and the nail grew funny.  So, we were super careful with those lawn chairs when I was young.  No one wants to grow up into the dotty old lady running around waving her slightly crooked finger at neighborhood kids every time the sun comes out.

And, yet, I am that slightly dotty, (not-so) old lady showing off her scars.  They are ugly, and in raw, vulnerable places, but I haul them out regularly to show people.  Life has been rough, and I learned a long time ago that it is okay NOT to pretend like it hasn't.  To be honest about where I have been, and what effects that has caused and where I am (honestly) at with things now.  I have a friend who has been processing a divorce.  Recently, when it became final, she was able to turn to me when she wasn't sure what divorce was supposed to feel like.  I went through it, excruciatingly, and it is one of those scars I show off.  Been there.  Done that.  And nowadays, I laugh about the "perks of being single" when my married friends are swapping war stories, but that is like making a happy face out of my c-section scar with sharpie.  Finding the bright side, the flowers growing on the manure pile.

So, I thought I might share.  She wanted to know that, even in circumstances like mine, did it still hurt when the divorce went through?  Did I still mourn a loss?  Yes.  It hurt. It hurt like crazy.  I mourned.  I mourned the loss of what should have been, what was supposed to be, the promises that were made, and not kept.  I grieved for the perversion of God's plan for our marriage and for our family.  I cried over the loss of what we would never have - anniversaries and shared grand-kid times and holidays as a large extended family.  I ached over the ministry I still believe God had for us, that would never be.  And I wept for our kids, for what they would lose, what they would never know, and all of the additional obstacles that they would face.  One flesh was being torn back into two, and it hurt.  It is supposed to.  Because it isn't God's plan.

Then, as time goes on, those hurts heal.  God repairs the cuts and bruises, and starts to rebuild what is broken inside.  It takes time.  Those open, gaping, oozing wounds that are tender and sore and seem to tear open every time someone gets engaged, or married, or has an anniversary, or even walks by looking slightly less than abjectly miserable start to close up, bit by bit.  And one day, they heal into scars.  As time goes on, those scars shrink, and fade.

They are still there.  Occasionally, they ache a bit, and you are reminded of how far you have come, and that a part of you will always be scarred.  But it is okay.  God has healed.  You are whole. And you survived.

So, I show off my scars.  It is life, and it is mine.  Because I have these scars, I can look at a life-wound that someone else is covering up, passing off as no big deal, and see the reality and the hurt underneath the pretty band-aids.  These scars let me speak into the lives of people who are now hurting, or confused or scared.  I can show them my scars, and remind them that I have been there, and lived to tell about it.  I can walk with them, and have made it through.  I could pretty up my past, and only talk about the wonderful, pink, fluffy things ... but my scars are beautiful.  They help tell my story, and help me help other people work through theirs.

So my point is, I guess, to feel what you feel.  If it hurts, feel it, and remember it, and let it be what it is.  Someday, someone will be hurting just like that, and you will be uniquely equipped to minister to them.  And, please, don't cover up your scars. We are all travelers on this harsh and demanding road.  Don't miss the chance to serve God through someone else because you were more interested in appearing to have it all together than in the sometimes harsh realities of life.  You are a beautiful and beloved child of God, so the things that make you up are beautiful and beloved too.  Scars and all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Morning is Coming

You put all of your hope, your love, your time, your energy, your faith in. You held nothing back, kept no reserves. You knew, just knew, that this time, THIS TIME, it was going to be okay. Forever you have waited, wanted, this day. You didn't even want to believe, because you were tired, or hurt, or broken, or jaded. You had seen others come and go. Always before, you started to come around, and got smacked back for your efforts. But this one time, there was something .... more. And you stuck around, and tried to be wise. Kept an open spirit, but your guard up. Until you knew, and you began to believe. This was it. No more waiting, no more aching, no more wondering. It is finished!

Except it wasn't. Not yet. You were right, this was the One. This WAS what you had been waiting, longing, hoping for. A bit more. Just hold on. They crucified Him. The tomb is sealed. You think, maybe I was wrong again. Wonder how to best go forward and what to do next. But hold on. Morning is coming.

I know for a lot of folks new beginnings go hand in hand with the New Year. Easter is the time of year I identify most with new beginnings. I identify so strongly with the hope we are told of going into the Passover week. Hosanna! Save us now! It isn't too hard to remember and relate to the crushing disappointment of believing that you gave your faith and trust wrongly. But every time, EVERY TIME, morning comes. Salvation comes. When things are at their darkest, when God seems the most remote, the farthest away, unreachable... the veil is torn. We are invited in. Morning comes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It is funny how sometimes, themes run through your life.  For me, the same Bible verses will keep popping up, in different venues.  Someone will bring it up during an adults group, and then it will be in the chronological study, and then in the Ladies Bible study book, and again on the radio. 

For me, lately that verse has been the Whatevers - Philippians 4:8 - 

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise--dwell on these things.(HCSB)

I kind of love the Young's Literal Translation -

As to the rest, brethren, as many things as are true, as many as are grave, as many as are righteous, as many as are pure, as many as are lovely, as many as are of good report, if any worthiness, and if any praise, these things think upon;

I am bombarded daily with thoughts.  Things I want to think on, things other people want me to think about, thoughts my boys, or others, want to share with me.  The news, advertisements, social media, Christian media, work, school, home... there are bajizillions (a whole heck of a lot) of thoughts out there screaming for our attention.  It can make a person have to go see the nut doctor.  Or want to move to a tamped mud house in the middle of nowhere.

But, really, it all boils down to simplicity, and the discipline to train your brain back on that simplicity.  Truth, gravity, righteousness, purity, love, good reports, worthiness, praises.  Think about these things.  Simple. And I can make it so, so, so complicated.

 My first problem is that nature abhors a vacuum. Apparently, so does my son's dog, but that is another story.  While sometimes, I am able to legitimately think about nothing, I can't seem to do it on command.  If I am being hit with a thousand thoughts, I am going to pick one.  And if that one doesn't sit well, and I try to send it on it's way, another one will come sliding right in behind it, bringing it's ugly cousin with it.  Kinda like the laundry pile.  No matter how much you take away, it just keeps growing. 

Secondly, Newton's laws state that objects will tend to stay in motion or at rest, all things being equal; AND that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. (For me this means that I will have to spend just as much energy doing the laundry, as my boys did in getting it dirty.  Doesn't seem fair, does it?) So if my thoughts get invited to a pity party or a tour through the seedier side of town, it is a well greased path and they will just continue sliding on in that direction. 

So whatever direction my brain is moving, all things being equal, it will stay in that direction.  I just have to get it going the way I want it.  And all I have to do to switch gears is expend the same energy on an equal and opposite thought pattern.  I don't have to figure out how to STOP negative thoughts.  Just to START thinking on God's thoughts.  He even gives me a pretty cool cheat sheet of things to start thinking on.

That is pretty awesome.  All of those thoughts that would draw me further from God - I don't have to wage war on them. I don't have to figure out how to turn off my brain, or magic-eraser them away.  Just simply, consciously choose other thoughts.  I suppose, since God is telling me about this over and over, it bears further investigating. 

But for now the word "Whatever" is just so perfect for this. Having teens, the word "whatever" is usually used to show disdain towards or the inferiority of the thing someone else (usually a brother) is saying.  So it makes me giggle to read it, and I have to to flip my hand up, roll my eyes, and do the What-----EVER voice in my head.  You know you do it sometimes too.

But it really works here:

The latest gossip?  Whatever - All I really have to do is turn my mind to what is true. 

Filled with anger at my ex-husband?  Whatever -  I can instead focus on the things that are of GOOD 

Kid being a little mouthy today?  WhatEver - There are so many commendables about him that I know he is on the right path, but having a hard day today.

Feeling sad or overwhelmed?  WhatEVER - How much does God love me and promise to be right here with me?  

Pride a bit hurt?  WHATEVER - I don't have anything to be proud of but Jesus!

Worried about the economy, politics, state of the world/future/price of tea in China?  Whatever - the truth is that God is in control and has a plan ... He"gots" this. 

So, if I am walking around muttering "whatever" to myself in my best impression of a 16-year-old-boy-doing-an-impression-of-a-16-year-old-girl, it's okay.  I am telling the negative thoughts the way it is, and building some mental disciple muscle.  Eye rolling optional.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Confessions of a Busy Mom

What started this train of thought:

This is pretty much my response, changed in a few spots where I was directly addressing the blog author: 

I usually agree with Brant Hansen's blog almost completely.  This time I am not so sure.  I think that the underlying point is valid... my job as a parent is absolutely to build men of God, not superstars.  I think a lot of this depends on your child, and your family and how old they are and the way THEY should grow. (I would be wrong to try to make my children grow into mini-mes.. they are so different than I am.  So when I want to be home having hot cocoa and doing puzzles, they want to be out shooting hoops and socializing.  So we compromise. It would be equally as wrong to push an introverted child into being class president.) 

So my concern falls into three areas.  Yes, they don't need MY success plan, but they do need to be trained.  Part of that training is to learn to learn - to be challenged and to put in the work and the effort and do their best.  That is going to look different for each child.  Two of my kids excel academically, so they need to be challenged academically. One struggles, so my expectations for him are not as "rigorous" Smile It is good for them to be trained in different situations and different ways.

Second, so much of this part of life ( I have teens) is them learning to be their own person while in the safety of my care.  To do that, they have to go do, go be, go try.  And be able to come home and relax, process and regroup, and then go again.  They are testing out their identities as learners and athletes and leaders and musicians and friends and group members and Christians in a world that is, increasingly, not. I really believe that they should do that while under the safety of my authority instead of having them jump off to college having never stretched those identity muscles. 

Finally, and maybe mostly, is that what I think I hear you saying is Relax! they are going to be all right!  However, I see a LOT of legalism regarding this cropping up.  Maybe it is just where I live.  But it seems that parents are knee jerking in response to exactly the busy kid culture we live in, and going totally legalistic in the other direction.  If withdrawing from all but a few church-approved and parent directed activities is right for them, then it must be the only answer for everyone.  And, honestly, that just makes me mad. The bondage of legalism gets my fires burning every time, in any manifestation. 

Our family is active.  We go do.  We are out in the community and with the school and our church.  We get to speak into the lives of kids and of families that we would not know if we weren't involved in these things, families that don't "do church". We have seen people come to church because they know someone from sports or speech or whatever, and it isn't so scary if you know someone who will be there.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back to when they were littles and we were home together all of the time.  But I am raising men, and I want them to "go therefore into all the world" boldly and with confidence, because they know who they are and that they can touch down at home.  My kids' character is being challenged and built through our involvement in activities.  They have to be men of God in the world, not just at church and in our home.

If I have misunderstood what he was conveying, I apologize.  I am in no way offended, but felt like there was a valid counter-view that should be expressed.  We are not all called to be elbows, and raising kids, like being a member of God's body, is rarely one size fits all.  I so appreciate the challenge to examine what we do and hold it up to the scrutiny of conviction.  Keep fighting the good fight.