Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Your Family And The Supreme Court Decision

It's been a few weeks now since the Supreme Court's landmark decision on same-sex marriages. Thousands of editorials and articles have been written, pro and con, and it seems like emotions have for now at least settled down somewhat.

Nonetheless, impassioned cries have come for pastors and churches to do everything from rise up as a mighty army to fight the decision and its implications to be more tolerant and accepting even though one may be opposed.

Those discussions and actions will continue for a long time I suspect.

But a question for families might be the more practical one to consider: what should Christian parents do and say to their kids about it?  Or should we just not talk about it? How do we prepare our families for the likely discussions they will encounter at work, in school or college this fall? How can we share what we believe to be God's truth while helping one another to respond to others in a Christlike fashion?

Let me suggest a couple ideas that could help.

First, if you're married work on your own marriage. Yes, boldly model what it means to have a healthy, growing, even thriving relationship in your house. Don't settle for OK. Show your kids how the two of you work at spending time together, having a vision for your long-term relationship and truly loving each other. So many kids today see mom and dad mostly as their taxi drivers and providers. Their parents have or experience little time for and with each other.

My hunch is that some of the most vocal Christians will be ones who spend little time, if any, improving and deepening their own marriage. We'll accomplish far more if we can make a case for and model a healthy heterosexual marriage.

Second, make sure you know the facts on the decision. Talk, yes, about what was decided but try to avoid all sorts of implications that we simply do not know will happen at this point. It's tempting to bemoan the possible changes in our culture, church or future decisions merely getting everyone worried rather than focusing on the present. There have already been numerous internet hoaxes of apparent actions taken as a result of the Supreme Court's decision. And of course, people jumped all over those, posted them to Facebook or Twitter and looked bad as a result.

Let's help our own families to learn the important lesson of getting the details first on anything before we assume the worst or some significant outcome.

Third, teach one another about speaking the truth in love and with grace.  As I've written elsewhere we can do our part to stand for the truth without becoming people others can't stand. Let's remind each other that we all make mistakes, that none of deserves God's grace and that there are sins that we all commit that also need forgiveness, love and someone to not reject us because of them.

What are our kids hearing come out of our mouths on this issue? What spirit do they sense behind our disagreement - bitterness, contempt and disdain or mercy, compassion and kindness?

Fourth, help one another with some cogent, respectable and meaningful replies to those who would espouse same-sex marriage. Learn to respond without anger or a demeaning spirit. Practice ways to invite an ongoing discussion and friendship, if possible, in spite of the fact that you disagree. Learn what Scripture says and doesn't say.  Because we love someone doesn't mean we must agree with them. Jesus loved a lot of people like that so we can too.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Experts Say "Parents, Get Out of the Helicopter!"

A year or so I took my first helicopter ride with a friend who is a rescue pilot in Texas. I loved it. The view was great even on a rainy day. It was fun looking over the traffic instead of being immersed in it.

However, it is one thing to ride in a helicopter.  It's very much another to live so to speak in one. And a number of studies the past couple of years have suggested that all the hovering parents tend to do these days to manage, control and manipulate only positive results in their kids lives is not helpful. 

A recent University of Washington study suggested,  Children of helicopter mothers were more depressed and less satisfied with life, and felt that they had less autonomy and were less competent.

"We think when parents are over-involved with their kids lives, they're undermining their sense of competence, both by sending a message that says, I think you can't do it yourself, and robbing them of the opportunity to practice those skills."

Many parents literally fly over and around their children on a regular basis thinking that they will help them prepare most effectively for the future. What they don't seem to know is that they are actually stealing healthy growth, independence and maturing from them.

As a result many kids not only have to have the best of everything these days - teacher, trainer, grades, experience, status on the team. They also have to look like it so every picture has the perfect smile, outfit and location.

Facebook for many is no longer just about communication. Much of it has become competition among parents to show how wonderful their offspring have done in life. Families subtly (or not so subtly) wage war to boast the best vacations, awards and even stories about the famous people their children have met or studied under.

So what does the research seem to imply to any of us who may be flying too closely to our kids?

Lighten up. Get out of the way. Let your children become more independent, make more and more decisions, learn from their mistakes and be imperfect. Of course, we should always be there for guidance and advice. And yes, there are boundaries we are free to have as long as they live in our house and we're paying the bills.

Provide some practical opportunities for your children to taste and develop independence. Even an elementary school child can learn from his or her mistakes or have to go to a teacher or friend and make things right. As they get older widen the path and add more responsibility with appropriate rewards or losses just like they would experience in their future education or work experience.

Admit your inappropriate role as a parent in staying too close. Are you trying to live through your child? Are their unresolved issues and events from your past that are causing you to put needless and unhealthy pressure on your kids? Talk to someone about it if need be but don't require your kids to carry your stuff around with them.

Maybe it's time to land that helicopter and just enjoy being back on the ground for a while.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.