What Mattered Most at Home
I was visiting with a Christian father who was raising young children. We were both raised in the church and wanted to do the same for our children.
Goodness, that's increasingly a tall order for many Christian parents. As we were visiting together about these challenges, I shared one of the things that I greatly appreciated about growing up in the church and the value of raising children in the church.
Specifically, being raised in the church meant I was raised in an atmosphere of moral seriousness. And that same moral seriousness is how I tried to raise my two sons.
What do I mean by moral seriousness? I don't mean guilt and shame. I don't mean sin and Judgment Day. I simply mean that being a good person was a front burner priority in my childhood home. Moral integrity and virtue were talked about, they were goals. Goodness mattered to my parents, and they wanted it to matter to me. And as a parent myself I put being a good person on the front burner for my two sons. Telling the truth and being honest mattered. It was a priority. Keeping promises mattered. Being patient, kind, and generous mattered. Sticking up for those being picked on at school mattered. Including those who were excluded mattered. Sharing mattered. Eschewing materialism mattered. Resisting stereotypes and racism mattered. And above all, love mattered.
What a wonderful way to grow up.
This moral seriousness is one of the great blessings of being raised in the church. And I shared it as an encouragement to the young father. It's true that our children are leaving the faith in higher numbers. And in the face of those numbers we can panic, and even overcorrect. What I shared with the father was what I felt we could all control: You can make your home morally serious. You can make goodness matter.
We cannot tell where our children will end up. They will make their own choices. But you, as a parent, can put your marker down. What is absolutely under our control are the memories of home. My sons will look back upon a home and a father who told them, over and over again, that love matters. Kindness, it matters. Care for those who are hurting and victimized, that matters. From there, going forward, my sons will make their own choices. But there will never be any doubt in their minds about where they came from and what mattered most at home.