Monday, June 30, 2008

Greetings from the East Coast

Thanks to some very gracious, unselfish thinking of my wife and a close friend, I am blessed this week to vacation on the East Coast with Rick Northen. Rick and I worked together in ministry for seven years at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas where I preached and he served as an Elder. Rick and his wife, Gail, are now serving full-time as self-supported missionaries aboard the Ship of Life on the Mekong River in Cambodia.

Rick and I will be spending two days at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York; a day in New York to watch the Ranger and Yankees in this the last season of venerable Yankee Stadium; two days in Philadelphia, including a Phillies/Mets game at Citizens Bank Park; and a finale in Baltimore to see the Rangers/Orioles. We also plan to see many of the historic sites along the route, including the U.S. Military Academy on the Hudson River in West Point.

My intentions are to spend some evening time downloading pictures and sharing them over my blog this week.
While sitting through a two-hour flight delay in San Diego, I read these words by Chip Ingram in his book Effective Parenting in a Defective World. I brought three books with me to read this week -- all based on parenting models -- so you should get plenty of quotes and comments on parenting interspersed among the baseball vacation pictures. The following paragraphs were especially insightful to me and I hope they bless you today:
"Many of us (Christian parents) are afraid our kids are going to get into trouble, and every time they veer this way or that way, we go nuts from anxiety. So we create a lot of fences and walls around them, rules and provisions that will keep them restrained and keep us from having knots in our stomach at night. On top of that, we open as many positive gates in those fences and walls as we can -- enrolling them in enriching extracurricular activities -- hoping that our open doors will lead them into all the right places.
It's easy to look at contemporary culture and being parenting our of fear. Scared of what might happen, many of us become preoccupied with what we don't want our children to do...That's fear, and it leads to a defensive, tentative and often overprotective approach to life.
The result is that we can smother our children our insulate them, forbidding them from engaging in activities or associating with anything or anyone that could bring them harm. We are easily guided by the land mines we want them to avoid rather than the character we want them to develop. When we do that, we're always emphasizing the negative to them rather than the positive. Not only is that counterproductive, it requires more effort than we can give; if carried to the extreme, it demands our being with them everywhere they go. Also, it teaches them to depend on us to protect them from a world full of negatives so they never learn the skill of living positively in dependence on God. Furthermore, when our desire to protect our children makes us mistrust them, they can be powerfully, negatively affected. Mistrust often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Children begin to act in ways that validate our mistrust, and that gives us even more reasons to be suspicious.
It's fruitless to parent either without direction of from a reactionary anxiety that tries to anticipate and avoid any danger our kids might face."