Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Who Said That? {What are our kids hearing that we aren’t saying?}

I find myself these days in conversations with my 13 year old wondering, how long has this been smoldering?  How long has she been sizing this up in her head?  Why hasn’t she asked me about this before now?

After a tearful conversation a few days ago, she said, “Everybody thinks we’re this perfectly happy family, and we’re not.”  {“Perfectly, happy” was not said in a tone that communicated all warmth and coziness.}  In those split seconds, close to midnight, while my hip propped me up by the sink- thankful for the sink after a confession like that- these thoughts zinged through, “We are!, Of course we aren’t!, We want people to think that!, "Perfectly, happy" is relative!, I thought we were transparent!  Oh, c’mon, what movie gave you that line?  We are so not that.”  And then her next words snapped me back, “I feel that pressure.”  That’s fair.  I think— and that’s why I am processing here.  You know, I couldn’t be writing this, I don’t think, if I truly wanted you to think we are a “perfectly, happy family”.  I feel I have shared enough information here so no one would ever think that.  Sure, our pictures are fun- everyone’s are— and we have terrific times in our home and with our family and friends but we also fight hard, act rudely, show disrespect, argue too much, and ask forgiveness daily.  Families are made up of sinful people— and some are made up of sinners saved by grace who need the gospel every day of their lives.  That would be us.  For sure.

I actually have family beach pictures where my cousin or niece has captured us getting on to the kids during the ETERNITY of snapping pictures.  I almost posted but they make me sad-- but KNOW we have them on record!!

But Julia confessed the pressure she feels and as I was propped by the sink, I had to pop the balloon and let her breathe.  I did the best I could for never even imagining this conversation— I am not good at impromptu but this is parenthood, yes?  No time for a rehearsal.  Here is where I want to go with this—  we have no idea what our kids are thinking or what they are picking up on.  What are we communicating when we don’t think we are saying anything at all?  We’ve all been in the middle of a rant with our kids and the phone rings…… and out of nowhere close by comes,  “Hello” in such a sweet, mellow voice.  I know the kids see right through it and that is why I always talk about it when it happens.  “If that had been so and so {a close friend}, I would have told them we were in the middle of a hard moment but the lady from Clothes Carpenters doesn’t really care we are having a bad day.”   A hard day, a hard last few hours made this thought come out AND it was LATE at night.  Late night is a double edge sword— good in the sense that I think more vulnerable thoughts come out but bad in the sense we don’t always have the energy to engage, push through and finish- parent or child.  However, I think her just speaking this secret thought to me began to relieve the pressure she was feeling.  Not perfectly, happy.  I am glad it came out.

Here are some questions I had for her to think through later:

Define “perfectly, happy family”.  What is your image of our family and what part of the image are you responsible for?  Do you know where this “pressure” comes from and are you responsible for any of it?  Am I?  Is Dad?  What dynamic is in our home, our conversations that make you think this is the image we wish to portray?  What kind of family do you think Jesus wants for us?

A few things the confession made me realize:  I need to remind her that our family is in community with other believers that know our struggles, our weaknesses and our possible sin patterns.  There are close friends in our lives who know our ugliest stuff but love us and always point us back to Jesus and His Word.

She needs to know that happy families argue and fight— it’s HOW they do it and what they do AFTERWARDS is what can set them apart.

I need to remind her that where sinners are involved, nothing will ever be perfect, or perfectly happy and that’s why we LONG for Jesus to come back and set all things right again.  The gospel must be central in family relationships.  He was the substitution for us in death to bridge a gap between all the non-perfectly happy people and Himself.  And He overcame death shattering forever the power of sin and death.

She needs to know that the family is possibly Satan’s most coveted target— where he desires to wreak the most havoc— to steal, kill and destroy.  {John 10:10} He does not want me to know Julia feels that pressure.  He wants to suffocate her with pressure.  He does not want me to enter into these conversations with her.  He wants to destroy her and her dreams for her present and future family.

I can’t end on that morbid note.  In that same verse in John 10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  I believe abundant life can be experienced in many ways by Christ followers but I think He loves expressing Himself in families and through families.  Our kids can have a front row seat of God’s abundance while they are in our homes, walking in the Light of Truth, learning to love when it’s hard, learning to forgive and be forgiven and realizing the Perfect Jesus brings the deep seated happiness for which everyone longs.

Now, I said that.

1 comment:

Coffee Mom said...

This is so good. Thank you.