A Sincere Letter to Parents


Dear parents,

This is for you. If there is anybody out there reading my blog who is a parent, God has laid this on my heart to share with you, and I pray that - at the very least - God speaks to you through it in some small way.

I have been in contact with too many Christian young adults who are dealing with - and have dealt with - so many things. Dark things. Emotionally disturbing things. Horrible past things. Temptation things. Self image things. Harmful things. Isolated things... and the list goes on.

What is wrong with this picture? Why are these young Christians being so badly affected and ensnared by the things of the world when they should be liberated, confident, stable, stalwart, peace and joy-filled pillars of the Church? Between the moment they were born, up till the time they became adults, what went wrong?

This is why I am writing this letter.

Parents, your children are vessels. What you pour into them will overflow by the time they reach the age of about 16. And what you don't plant in their lives, will not grow. Also, what others may force into their lives, will fester in secret.

I'm not talking about a typical education or life skills here, folks. I'm talking about something far more serious. Not their bodily needs, nor their education, not even their mind or intellect. If you consider yourself a good parent, these things should already be high on your priorities list. But no: what I am speaking of, is their heart.

Think about it. Do you know your child's heart? Do you know what keeps them awake at night? Do you understand why they respond to different people a certain way? What the reasons are behind their reactions to certain things? What their dreams are? Their hopes? Fears? How about what gives them guilt, or makes them feel ashamed? Are you inside their mind enough to sense when something is wrong, even slightly? Do you know their friends? Their joys? Their hobbies? Do you know their secrets? Does their hearts beat in time with yours?

You may think this is too deep; that knowing these things are delving too far into the reaches of your child. I mean, children need their privacy too.

"NO!"

Sorry for my over-emphatic reply, but this is not true. As your childrens' parents, it should be your sole design to know everything about them! How can you fully understand how best to cultivate something you have been given unless you learn and know everything about it?

A mechanic knows everything about a car, so that whenever something goes even slightly amiss - not even something serious - he knows exactly how to rectify it and make it run even better than before.

This is very important: Parents, you are the primary cause of what kind of adult your child will become.


I have been blessed above and beyond measure with my parents. I thank God for my parents, and in fact, I truly do not thank Him enough. They have protected me - so that I grew up in a safe environment and was kept unharmed by the world and people in it. They have nurtured me - they have always shown an interest in my interests, and have cultivated my love and respect for them. They have persevered with me - they disciplined me when I did wrong, praised me when I did right, and if they thought something was bothering me, they patiently made themselves available for me to talk to them. In this, they listened to me, even if they didn't think it was such a big issue, because it was one to me. They have counselled me - during the times I was able to make decisions for myself, they gave me Godly wisdom and counsel without trying to choose sides, and they were always honest in their opinions of what I should or shouldn't do. They taught me about the world - they warned me about what was in it using the right words for my right age in order that I might protect myself in unforeseen circumstances. They made me learn to be dependent - yes! Dependent! Teaching a child to depend on one's parents is the best forerunner for a child to learn how to depend on God once they reach adulthood. (one of the downfalls to teaching a child to be "independent" is that they find it difficult to depend on the Lord in their later years when they sorely need to.)

All of these things - and billions more along the same lines - have protected me from the world, yet equipped me for life at the same time. And throughout it all, I have gained something so exceedingly valuable, that it is priceless:

Best friends.







My Mum, as many of you know by now, is my best friend. Thanks to her and my Dad's tireless, God-driven child-raising, she knows everything about me. There is not one secret between her and I. We share our hearts together, bear each other's burdens, laugh together, cry together. Because of all the years Mum nurtured me and kept me close to her, we know each other's minds like no one else on earth. The times we open our mouths to say exactly the same thing are too numerous to count, we think so alike. I cherish her wisdom in everything I may be struggling with, and I adore it that she is always willing to listen to me sincerely no matter what I have to say; that she will always love me no matter what I have done, and she will always try to help me, even if no one else can. My Mum loves the Lord with all her heart, and her faith challenges me every day. You have not seen a mother and daughter so close until you have seen me and my Mum. (unless you happen to be especially blessed, as I am!)

Every daughter craves this relationship with her mother. And every mother should want to have such a relationship with their daughter. Fathers and sons also. Because without this close heart-to-heart intimacy between children and their parents, what happens?

Children who are failed to be protected can be marred and scarred by the wickedness of the world in their early ages, both physically and emotionally. This creates dark secrets and forms distrust in their hearts towards even the people that care most for them. This darkness can often grow into something deeper, engulfing different areas of their lives and stealing the joy out of their childhood. Guilt over something quite small can turn ugly if kept from parents because they failed to listen to their child. Things like these can progress to compromising in other areas and the child ends up with a messed up life, simply because their parents weren't open to giving Godly counsel and advice in each situation, no matter how trivial at the time. Lack of listening can cause bitterness to grown in a child's heart, which may lead to their forsaking God later in life because of the image their parents depicted of Him. Also, lack of listening tells a child that their parents do not care about them, and this can result in many self-image issues that could lead to self-harm. Ultimately, failing to understand your children to the best of your ability can eventually lead to their death... before their life has barely begun. (do I need to quote the statistics of teenage suicides?)

Neglecting to know the hearts of your children is building the house of their adult lives on sand.

However knowing the hearts of your children and keeping in touch with their thoughts will help to build a rock solid foundation on Christ that will serve to uphold and guide them all the days of their lives.

I know that I am not a parent, and that I do not have the same knowledge of the road you are walking. However if I may, I would love to share with you a few key elements to knowing your child's heart that I have learned by observing others, and have been taught by my own parents.

1. Guard and protect your children at all costs, regardless of how it may look.
And this may cost you at times. My parents never let me travel by car with anyone else until I was about 14. This may have reflected badly on my parents sometimes, (i.e. restrictive, or overbearing) but I am so grateful now that they didn't take the risk. Whenever we were in a public place, I was well within my parents' sight 98% of the time. My parents always knew exactly where I was all the time, and if they didn’t, they rectified it. I can count on one hand the number of sleepovers I've had on my own, and half of them were with relatives. I rarely ever went to Sunday school, but practically always stayed by my parents’ side in church. (you can interrogate me in the comments) Bathroom breaks anywhere, one of my parents were always directly nearby, i.e. right outside the door. If we were left in the car for short periods of time, the doors were locked. We were never left alone in a supermarket, even for a few minutes. My hand was always held whenever we walked down the street. (On a sidenote, I’d like to say that all of this was done with the utmost love and devotion. You can put away visions of chains and padlocks.) These might seem like small things, but as I sit here and look back and recognize all the many hundreds of thousands of incidences where my parents protected me, I feel so overwhelmed and blessed that they cherished me enough to protect me so closely. It can only take a split second for the world to throw a spanner into the mechanics of a child’s life. Guard the seconds, and they will reap many hours of joy. (Note: For those of you who are young adults and may feel you were too sheltered as a child, don’t feel bitter; stop and think about how many things your parents have protected you from.)

2. Learn to read the signs and be available to listen
I was a talkative child. (No kidding!) I would talk all day long, to anyone that would care to listen. Inanimate objects included. So if I was silent - and awake - my Mum knew something was up. She would talk to me and gently ask me if anything was bothering me. She made herself available for me to talk to. She made sure that she was always there; being loving and gentle with me if she knew I needed to talk to someone. This made it easier for me to share what was on my heart, even if at times it was difficult. This built up a great trust between us. Also, if my Mum could see that something was hard for me, she would not make it any harder for me by getting angry or upset about what I told her. She could see if I had been punished enough by it already. It is so important for a child to be heard! If you don’t make the effort to be a listener, your children will look for confidants elsewhere, and this can sometimes put them in danger. However if you make yourself available to your child when they are visibly struggling with something, you open the doors for a better, richer and deeper relationship with them because they feel safe enough to share with you. You become your child’s confidant, closest advisor, and your children will never feel that they have to look elsewhere for Godly counsel or for someone to listen to. Granted, friends are great blessings, however no friend will ever know you in the same way a parent does. Since you know your children the best, make sure you always know your children the best!
 

3. Don’t hide your humanity      
As awesome as my parents are, the simple fact of life is that no one is perfect, including my amazing parents. How do I know this? Because they never hid their flaws. Parents fail just as much as the next person. However a parent that hides their failings and shortcomings from their children paint an unrealistic picture of themselves; an untrue picture of themselves that children will find unattainable. The fact that parents seem so infallible can be discouraging for children: “if they are so perfect, why do I feel this way?” “There must be something wrong with me because I feel like this, mum and dad never would.” I personally know of a family whose parents never argued something out until their children went to school or were out of the house. One day their daughter was present when they had an argument, and the daughter was terrified. "Are you and Dad going to get a divorce?" she sobbed to her Mum later. It takes eating a lot of humble pie to be a parent that confesses their flaws to their children, and yet my parents did. You as parents have learnt so much by making mistakes, so instead of just telling your children what the right thing to do is, share your life stories of where your wrong choices took you so that they may learn from your experience. Also, whenever you fail or slip up, it is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate repentance towards your children so that they may learn how to forgive.

4. Always point to God
Throughout all your protecting, all of your listening, and all your honesty, there is one more all-encompassing point that will enhance your parenting like no other: pointing to God. Teach your children about our awesome God and Saviour in everything! From reminding them of His angels in charge over you, (my Mum prayed this over me every night as a child, and it is a prayer that will remain in memory till the day I die) of pointing out His beauty in nature, asking His help and guidance in situations where children see you struggling, to telling them stories from the Bible. Teach your children the fear of the Lord, so His words may be written on the tablet of their hearts. Know your child’s heart well enough so that you can see God’s name written upon it. This point is the most vital of them all. It is the springboard for all your children will become.

My dear parents, your children are soft clay in your hands. What you fail to do for them will not be done by anyone else, and what you do do for them will change their outcome. I pray that this challenges you to develop deeper, stronger, and more personal relationships with your children. They desire it more than anything.

You are raising the next generation of pillars to uphold the church. They need the foundation and the strength the bear the responsibility. Don’t let them down by failing to show them how.

I pray fervently that this letter is taken in the heart it was written: one full of care and concern for the lives of my siblings in the Lord.

Godspeed to you.

Your daughter in Christ,
BushMaid

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A note to young adults: I would like to say that to all of you who may not have had the advantage of parents you feel open to sharing with, ones who have been quick to listen, or who have protected you in life, you have my deepest compassion, but also, much hope. For God is not like any mother or father on this planet, no matter how awesome they might be. He is far above and beyond any kindness, love, care, and compassion anyone on this earth may feel. He is your true Father, the One you may always trust, always rely on, and He is always ready to listen and incline His ear to your every word. I pray that those of you who have an empty space inside that parents failed to complete, would embrace the love of God and allow Him to fill you in a way that no mortal ever can. May the light of His righteousness overflow in you and shine for all to see. You are priceless, cherished, and treasured by the God of the universe. You have every reason to hold your head high, unashamed. So go with God.

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16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thankyou for your help with it, Jonathan. :)

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  2. Thank you so much for this article!!! It is SO true!!! All parents need to read this article before it's too late.

    God bless,
    Bethany

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    1. Thankyou so much for reading, Bethany!! I appreciate your commenting. You are so right; "before it's too late" is the reason why I wrote it.

      Love you. xo

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  3. So...I am curious. :) Do you think all parents should shelter their children in the same ways, and extent that your parents have done with you? Because, quite frankly, I was raised differently (and enjoyed it) and find the idea of never having a minute by myself very disturbing...:(

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    1. Hello there!

      Thankyou for reading and for your comment. :) Generally I don't like to use the term 'shelter' but rather, 'protect'. I believe there is a difference between the two. I may not have clarified properly in that I *did* get time to myself - a LOT of time to myself! :D My parents weren't fretful worriers who hovered by my elbow every minute of the day. I got plenty of time to sit and read by myself, play childish games by myself, ride my pony, climb trees, etc. etc. The point I was making was that my parents always knew where I was, and that they paid special attention as to where I was if there were people around. I.e., Hours and hours didn't pass without them not caring where I was. The sad truth is that you can't always be safe in your own home so it pays to keep an eye on your children when there are outsiders around.

      It's not that children can't be raised with more freedom, but the fact of that matter is that it isn't always safe. If you were raised differently and enjoyed it, that is awesome! I'm so glad that you had a great childhood. :D But I personally know of people who have had - and still have - horrible childhoods because of parents' lack of protection and love. That is what I was addressing in this article. :)

      I hope that clears it up some for you. :)

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  4. It does, thanks. :) I guess, I took the 98% of the time remark a little too literally. ;)

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    1. I'm glad. :D I have the knack for not getting my thoughts across quite how I mean them, so thankyou for asking for clarification. :)

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  5. Excellent, excellent post, mon Busheth. ^^ :)

    ~Shawn

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    1. Thankyou so very much, mon Shawnie. :D * hugs *

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  6. I don't know the answers to those questions about me, and I'm me.

    My parents knew where I was and were always with me until I was 8 or so, I think, then they let me have more freedom and roaming. They've raised me to be independent and take care of myself, and if anyone tries to hurt me, to beat the living daylights out of them. And get a CCW, just in case I need some extra firepower.

    But I live in a much different place than you do. The crime in my town is composed almost entirely out of teenage hooliganism.

    And I happen to know several people with abusive parents, including my adopted cousin. So, perhaps, I'm a bit too cynical.

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    1. It sounds like you had good parents, Varon. :) 8 is getting to be a pretty responsible age to have more freedom. It's a good thing you live somewhere where crime is minimal. But then again, sometimes you don't hear certain things.

      The questions were more examples than rules. So long as children have the freedom to come to their parents when something is truly bothering them and aren't afraid to tell, it is a good thing. :) This is the kind of "heart knowledge" I'm talking about. If a parent doesn't know their child well enough to take anything they feel to share, it only damages their relationship, and could ultimately damage the child.

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  7. Actually, I take that back. A guy murdered his wife a few years ago. Or vice verse. I don't remember.

    Okay. That makes more sense.

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  8. I'm literally crying over here. Dx This was amazing and beautiful. Wonderful job.

    -JJ-

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    1. *hugs JJ very tightly* God bless your dear heart, lovely. :)

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