I want others to respect my values and morals and to respect how I raise my children as a parent. There are parent’s out there that have warped values and child-rearing practices, and that often demands the intervention of a community and sometimes the law, but most of the time we respect different parenting practices. So here is a brief insight into my hopes of instilling certain values in my children, and then a brief defense of them.
I want to raise my children valuing the importance of relationship and community. I want them to see giving as far more enjoyable and valuable then receiving (yes even at Christmas time). I want my children to know, and probably lend me insight, into the paradoxes of Jesus’ teachings. Love your enemies, deny yourself, seek first the kingdom, faith like a child in a kingdom like a mustard seed. I want my kids to know that there are better uses of your time then comatose entertainment; that more toys won’t make you more happy. I want them to know that Christianity and Church is much more about hanging out in the park with the homeless and having banquets for the needy, than it is about singing songs, drawing pictures and eating out on Sunday with people that all look and act the same. I want my kids to know that worship includes planting gardens and giving food, clothes and shelter to others. I want them to know that we bike because it’s fun, and it’s taking good care of this lovely planet God gave us. I want my kids to know the importance of wearing clothes and eating food that was prepared justly and not by a child their age in a sweatshop. I want my kids to know that God will care for their needs, but that it is more important to live simply so that others might simply live. I want my kids to have fun, playing at the park, reading books at the library, going on adventures all over town, building castles out of refrigerator boxes, redeeming others trash into tree forts.
I know, my aspirations are high. I have ideas for how I might begin to instill those values, and I’m flexible with how, but those are values I want to teach them. Most people will agree these are good ends, it’s the means that people are going to have a hard time with. I don’t want to have a TV in the house. I’m not going to buy my children presents on Christmas. We aren’t going to fill our house with toys. We aren’t going to live a lifestyle that matches our income. Our cars, clothes, toys and haircuts might be less trendy then the neighbors. We’re going to live in a neighborhood where everyone doesn’t look the same, and BMW’s and SUV’s don’t line the driveways. And that might mean my bike gets stolen.
Can other’s respect that? Honestly, I think they’re going to have a hard time. Folks might disagree on when their kid’s can see scary movies, but they all think you should get toys on Christmas. They might disagree on smoking in the house, but most folks seem to agree you should get the biggest house you can afford (actually that the bank will loan you).
I definitely think the biggest obstacle to instilling these values in our children will not be the children’s willingness to embrace them, but other adults outright disagreement and disrespect of that set of values (however well meaning they are).