Friday, March 15, 2013

grandma's bookshelf - Beautiful Nate

In this life one of the most important things to me is seeing my children and grandchildren grow up to be people who know, love and walk with God. There certainly is no shortage of books which are happy to tell you how to do this . . . "in three easy steps!" Well, this is one grandma who is here to tell you there are no "easy steps" when it comes to seeing our children and grandchildren grow to be people who know, love and walk with God. Anyone who tells you there is, simply wants to sell books . . . or get you to attend one of their workshops.

The process of seeing children grow to be responsible adults who love God has good times, difficult times, joyful times and sad times . . . this is what the book Beautiful Nate: A Memoir of a Family's Love, a Life Lost, and Heaven's Promises is all about. I was sent this book to review and found it shares the story of a family who read all the books and "followed all the steps" and yet, their oldest son chose to turn to a life of drugs, ended up in prison and died at the age of 27 . . . the age of my son. This is the personal and painful story of a man who was a national leader in the pro-family movement of the 1990's and how he came to realize despite the conservative teaching which says there is a "formula" for raising children, the truth is there is a difference between "child-centered" parenting and healthy, intentional parenting.

In this book Dennis Mansfield shares his personal story of how he did all the "right things" and yet, got it all so very wrong. I'm happy to see how he takes responsibility for the mistakes he made and doesn't beat himself up for the choices his son made. He very clearly explains the difference between fear-based child-centered parenting and healthy, intentional parenting with the goal in view of raising healthy adults.

There are no perfect parents - despite what some conservative, performance based faith authors and teachers try to convince you, you can become if you follow their "steps". There also are no perfect children. We as parents and grandparents need to approach this from the perspective of what we want to see happen - we want our children and grandchildren to grow up to be people, adults who know, love and walk with God. To do this we have to be intentional and we have to move the focus off the child. When children are the "center" of it all, it is too easy for them to stay "children" even when their age shows they should be "adults".

Dennis says, "There is a prevailing series of unintended lies in evangelical Christianity which have been allowed to take root in the last thirty years. One lie says loving ourselves is sin. Another says there are secrets to child raising and good marriages. The thinking seems to be if we follow enough formulas and read enough books, we'll master the to-do list and work harder to gain a balanced and fulfilled life in Christ as parents. Children will follow us, we awkwardly reason, if we push them to do so If they do not follow us voluntarily  we will make them do so. The default position to discipline becomes an excuse for breaking our children's hearts and their spirits." 

He goes on to say, "I've learned I never was my children's police officer. I wasn't their trainer or their life coach. I was not eve my children's permanent father, nor are they my permanent little kids. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. As parents, we are given may tasks to do; our paramount duty is to love our children in the Lord and our parallel task is to raise them into adults. In raising adults, we're passing our children on to God After all, He's their real Father!"

This is a book which will challenge your thinking when it comes to "raising" the children and grandchildren you have so they become adults. As Dennis said, "The step-by-step formulaic approach to raising children is convenient; it's just invalid. In an odd way, it could actually be said to achieve its goal: raising children. But the world doesn't need more children. It needs men and women of integrity who are real, despite the pain and, more important, because of the pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment