Raising a Child Changes You
Raising a child changes you in ways you probably can imagine… like learning to function on little to no sleep, developing an incessant desire (or aversion) to speak in rhyme, adapting to handle kid puke and poop without vomiting… you know, the basics.
Then there are the ways being a parent changes you that you never, ever saw coming.
This one started when my oldest was about 12… about to be 13… How was that even possible? Why is it that some minutes seem as if they’ll last for all eternity but years pass by at the speed of light? And now we sat at the precipice of something new, something I didn’t feel ready or equipped to face with him. We’d encountered change before as he gained a new skill, grew a little more and matured into a new stage. Those moments might have been a tiny bit sad as our baby was growing up. BUT they also were things to celebrate: rolling over for the first time, learning to walk, writing his name, reading books, riding a bike, heading to kindergarten, playing his first soccer game.
The dilemma of 13
But having my child about to turn 13 brought something different, a more severe level of concern, which began with a discussion on PG-13 movies. Up until this point PG-13 movies were a “no-go” for him, as much as I lamented that the rating system needed to exist, I was glad for a way to set boundaries. Yet each day my son grew and we inched every closer to 13… and to all the things that I’d been trying to protect my child from, help my child view with a Godly worldview, protect my child’s mind and guard my child’s heart.
And my heart sank for him. My spirit languished of all he was now “old enough” to be exposed to of his own choice. Isn’t there enough brokenness, harshness, violence, cruel behavior, ill-used language, misrepresented views of sex, and the like that accosts our ears, bombards our eyes, consumes our minds, and darkens our hearts without us choosing to add more?
This milestone of the impending turning 13 kicked in every parental desire to safeguard to protect my child from the onslaught. I lamented the world he’d have to navigate differently because suddenly all the brokenness, cruelty, harshness, and sin that I’d been trying to protect him from was now a door he could open more freely.
Oh, my child! Why does 13 mean you’re all of a sudden ready to be exposed to all that? Why is 13 the magical age of maturity? Why do you think you’re ready for all that?
God Challenged Me
And right here God challenged me. Here God convicted me. Here God spoke to my momma heart. See, as a mom I was lamenting that the very things (sinful, destructive things) I had been looking to protect my son from were now doors open to him. How is my child old enough to be exposed to these things from which I had been trying to guard his heart against?
Right in this critical, heart-wrenching realization God asked me, “My child, when did you decide you were old enough to expose your mind to those things? When did you decide you were mature enough to consume as entertainment the very things that are contrary to my will? Why did you decide you were ready to bombard yourself with the very things I want to guard your heart against? Why do you think you’re mature enough to handle sin?”
(Does that hit you as hard as it hits me?!)
I sit here today still convicted by this thought: why do I think I’m old enough to consume, be exposed to, be entertained by sin and not be affected?
The biggest thing I had to learn was not about how I was parenting my son, but this: How as child of God, was I allowing Him to guide, protect, nurture, discipline, grow and mature me?
Looking at my child I understood the Father’s heart for me. As a mom, I wanted to protect my son from all the things that could invade his mind, pollute his heart and corrupt his spirit. Yet I had somehow convinced myself I didn’t need the same protection any longer, I was mature enough to handle it…
I, a beloved child of God, lavished with mercy, filled with grace and loved beyond imagining, thought I was mature enough to unguard my heart, leave my mind open without filter and expected no consequence on my spirit? All because I was mature enough to handle it?
That Question Changed Me
God has a better plan for me, if only I could see, trust, obey and submit to God my Father.
“Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
While so far I’ve focused on the movie rating, this is so much more than a rating on a movie, game, TV show or song. I know some movies with a mature rating are ones we need to see. Conversely, a PG rating doesn’t ensure the content is necessarily good for us. But the underlying concept is not bound to the specifics of any external scale.
Beloved child of God: Why do I think I am old enough to fill my heart, bombard my mind with the very things from which I want to protect my children?
And that question has changed me. Please don’t read that and think I have it all together. I definitely do not. But that question rocked me to the core and changed me even more so. Changed what movies I’ll view. Changed what television shows I’d watch. Changed what types of books I’ll read. Changed what music I would play, sing, dance to… and that was just the beginning.
That question changed me.
How will it change you?