Sometimes I read a book that gets me fired up (to serve) and I want people to read it. This time I am reading Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. I like him. Probably because my mother read all of his books when I was a kid and raised us according to much of his advice, so it is familiar. Also, because I have seen his advice change parents, including myself and my mother, and our approach to kids.
This morning I was reading about boys and their self image and how vastly different the men these boys become can be. I have personally heard testimony of a grown man who suffered with eating disorders and self image issues to the extent of considering suicide. There were other struggles beside body image, but when I look at what a solid man of God this guy is, it proves to me that satan can tempt anyone in to believing these nasty lies. He is subtle.
I am pretty sure that is the devil’s forte: subtlety. He gets us to believe before we even realize we are believing HIM. It brings up the question: Why do we go round and round with God and His word before we will begin to consider it, but we take what the father of lies tells us at a mere whisper?
The passage I read today was wrought with statistics of boys and violence, abuse, abusing, drug and alcohol addiction, and every other devastating path parents are terrified to consider. Herein lies the problem.
I get these stats. I get that so many of them stem from boys from seriously jacked up homes, so bottom line, these boys didn’t stand a chance. What really gets me aggravated are the boys who come from solid homes, two loving and present parents, happy homes. The ones who kill themselves in 8th grade because of bullying at school and didn’t know how to cope.
It isn’t enough as parents to pray away what scares us in our children and their futures. WE MUST EQUIP OUR CHILDREN TO DEAL.
I am a huge believer in prayer. Come over for coffee sometime, and I will give you a time line of events showcasing the answered prayers in my life. It’s real. I am also a believer in the brain, skills, gifts, and heart God gave to me. As it turns out, I have things I can teach my kids, so that when they find themselves face to face with that puking vomitous mass the devil they have the words to speak and the know how to deal.
Too many parents fall asleep fearful of the road their child is on or what evils may worm its way into their child’s heart. The fact is, we live in the world. Evil is everywhere; you can’t run; you can’t hide. But you can equip. Does your child know what to do if he/she is being bullied? Does your kid know what anorexia is and what to do if they see it in a friend or someone at school? Does your kid know you love them and consider them handsome/beautiful? Does your kid know what to do if someone in the high school locker room shows them a pornographic picture? Herein lies the second problem.
You have to be brave enough to ask those poignant, probably embarrassing questions.
Here is a transcript of a conversation with Eli a few months ago:
(As we drive in the car alone together.)
Me: So, are you excited to be in fifth grade?
Eli: yes! I am very excited.
Me: The kids in 5th grade are different than fourth grade. Sometimes stuff will come up that may not always be appropriate.
Eli: What? Gross. What?
Me: Well, what would you do if boy asked you to come look at a magazine and when you got there it was of naked people?
Eli: MOMMY! OH MY… WHAT? That’s gross.
Me: Yes, but not all boys are raised by our house rules. Some families may not think it’s a big deal, or their family members make bad choices and have magazines like those, so the kids find them and bring them to school. What do you do?
Eli: There are magazines like that?
Me: I am not trying to give you ideas of what to spend your money on. I want to know what you will do.
Eli: ew. that is so inappropriate. I wouldn’t look.
Me: I am glad to hear that. Because that is disrespectful to you, and to that girl, and that girl’s parents who are probably not very proud of her career choice. Is that all you would do? Just not look?
Eli: I don’t know. I guess.
Me: Well that’s great that you wouldn’t look, but maybe your friend doesn’t have anyone in his life to tell him that isn’t OK. Maybe he is looking for someone to tell him he doesn’t have to look at stuff like that to be cool. Can you think of something you could say to him so he knows you still like him for him and that he shouldn’t look at magazines or other inappropriate pictures?
Eli: um. Yeah. I could tell him, “hey man, that magazine is gross. You shouldn’t look at that either because it’s disrespectful. Wanna go ride our skateboards?
Me: That’s perfect. Now you have let him off the hook from trying to be cool, you have been a positive influence in his life, and you have now made yourself a safe friend for him. He doesn’t have to be someone else; he can be a little kid and ride skate boards.
Eli: OK. Can we talk about something else?
Me: Yep, I love you buddy. I am proud of you. And, last thing, if something like that ever happens, even if you don’t make the right choice, you can tell me or daddy.
Eli: I think I will tell Daddy. He will understand.
Me: I am fine with that. (Although, I am a little nervous as to why my son thinks my husband will understand porn talk)
Now, I am not delusional. I am sure Eli will be tempted plenty and not always make the right choices. But, I have done my job as a parent and he is much better prepared when something comes up. I have helped him to pre-think a situation and its outcome rather than having to play clean up or cowering in my bed with fear. I am a mother; translation, I am a warrior. I am prepared to fight for my kids.
And, I know that what I say gets through to my kids. On a car ride with Izzy I asked her if any of the boys at school have wanted to be more than friends, and she casually said a boy had just asked her out. (This is a boy who had come to her because he heard she prayed and his parents were divorcing and he was devastated. She prayed with him and we prayed for him in our family prayers over the next few weeks). I asked her response to his request. She told him it didn’t really make sense to be his girlfriend because she wasn’t planning on marrying him(a conversation we had previously about dating). Then she invited him to dinner at our house. He came, and it was really great.
He told her he thought she was a little crazy but that he really liked her. They were friends til she switched schools.