As I think about the raising of my kids, I realize there’s one dominating factor that influences my default parenting style more than anything else:
My own childhood.
I was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia. I had a safe neighborhood with plenty of woods right behind my house. I am the youngest of five kids. A part of a blended family. I had a fireman for a dad. I had a superwoman for a mom.
I always knew that my mom and dad loved each other. I always knew that mom and dad loved me. Mom and dad are still married and I like them so much that we moved next door to them. When they split their time up north living near the rest of my siblings, they still go to the same church I was born into. There was never a time in our life where we simply “went” to church. We were the church, we served the church, our friendships were our church family. We celebrated births and grieved deaths together. With the same people. Year after year.
My adult years have been filled with more trials and challenges than I would have dreamed I could survive. But in the midst of all of the turmoil, there has been a core stability in my soul, largely because of decisions my parents made to Rebel and Repeat.
Mom and dad both grew up poor. They both grew up surrounded by family, church, and people with intensely strong work ethics. But they also grew up in homes that might nowadays be called dysfunctional. They had dads that didn’t always show a steady hand of love. They both experienced adults in their lives who put on a religious show but lived selfishly. They had moms that carried the spiritual load for the family. They saw and experienced great examples of people and dark selfishness.
They both found Jesus at an early age, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through their lives they both learned to Rebel and Repeat.
I never lived in the volatile home situations of my parents. With five kids, there were plenty of chaotic times, but at the core I experienced such a steady foundation in my home. But still, there were plenty of decisions where I have had to make choices to Rebel and Repeat.
Why do we need to Rebel and Repeat? Because for good and for bad, our childhood shapes so much of who we are as parents. Some of us grow up in great homes, some of us grow up in broken homes. But all of us have to choose which parts of our childhood we are going to turn away from, and which parts we are going to pass along.
My kids are going to need to know that God is a good, loving Father. This was so easy for me to do, because my dad was a steady, loving dad. I want to repeat this. Actually I want to do even better, considering that I grew up with an example that he never had.
My kids need to have a strong work ethic. They’re going to need to know that they are not just leeches, but important parts of the family. My mom helped me learn this by giving me chores around the house beyond merely looking after my own stuff. I want to repeat this, especially because it makes life easier on my wife, which make my life happier.
I became a kid in church who was nice and knew all of the answers, who loved Jesus, but who often lived a completely hypocritical life. I want to rebel against this. How do I do that? I have very honest conversations with my kids about choices I made, regrets I have, and consequences I’ve faced. I tell them that my stupidity is no excuse for them to do the same thing. Kids are going to make mistakes, but I’d like them to make their own, not the same dumb ones I did.
Rebel and Repeat. What parts of growing up are you going to turn away from? What habits or examples are you going to refuse to let dominate your family? And what examples to you want to make foundational in your household?
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
You’ve been given an incredible teaching tool for the raising of your kids—your own childhood. What conversations are you going to have, what stories are you going to tell, what examples are you going to set to enable your kids to Rebel and Repeat in the best way possible? Remember, they’ll be raising your grandkids!!!
Thanks mom and dad!