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Welcome back to our parenting predictions for 2020.
If I’m being honest . . . they’re not pretty, but it makes sense because we are sinful people who love darkness rather than light. We’re more comfortable when we live an unexamined life.
Our goal today, therefore, is to shed the light of God’s Word into the shadowed corners of our world’s parenting philosophies.
If you didn’t catch our last episode, I would encourage you to do so.
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Two more of the free resources we offer are episode notes and transcripts available for nearly every episode. I hope you’ll avail yourself of those notes as needed.
Okay, let’s talk about the final two parenting predictions for 2020.
Last time we read an article from Global News posted on New Market Today. In the article, the author cites two individuals, Tanya Hayles and Samantha Kemp-Jackson, in their attempt to frame their view of parenting 2020.
And what are their four pillars for the new year? Without wasting any time on frilly fashion trends or whether or not you should buy a weighted blanket, the article focuses on . . .
And, like most worldly philosophies, there is Truth to be gleaned and error to be rejected. Parenting community is an absolutely valuable thing if it revolves around the expectations God has for our parenting. It’s vitally important if it includes brothers and sisters in Christ attempting to bear one another’s burdens.
On the opposite side, it becomes destructive if we simply promote unbiblical philosophy or encourage sinful practices in the name of tolerance.
And when it comes to gender and parenting, it’s easy to see how the media’s views on gender directly contradict Scripture. For Christians this push toward genderless parenting should actually encourage us to better understand what God says about sex and gender and then make sure it’s discussed appropriately in our homes.
To avoid the discussion would only succeed in relegating vital Truth to the sidelines in honor of socially-constructed self-worship. May we never communicate to our children — by commission or omission — that the Bible should take a back seat to contemporary thought.
Therefore, we must keep this same Christ-centered, Bible-grounded approach as we discuss the final two points.
The third prediction made for 2020 parenting is this . . .
3. “Family Activism”
The author writes, “Kemp-Jackson thinks 2020 could see more families on the front lines of political protests.
“'The tumultuous and contentious nature of recent political trends has led to a polarization of values, ideals and social mores,’ she said. ‘This confluence of emotions has put parents in a precarious position in recent times, forcing them to take a stand regarding their beliefs and their values for the sake of their children.’
“Most recently, 17-year-old activist Greta Thunberg called for global action on the climate crisis, driving teens and young people to hit the streets in the millions.
“‘[Thunberg] has galvanized youth, in turn making their parents more accountable and active,” said Kemp-Jackson. ‘Look for more examples of youth-led protests in other sectors [that are] supported by parents.’”
This is clearly a politically-charged point that reflects well our social climate. In one way I agree with it. In another, I think it’s damaging.
This idea of family activism can sound a lot like parents teaching their children the Scriptures and then working with them to spread the good news of the Gospel. I can see families serving in soup kitchens, volunteering in Vacation Bible Schools, offering love and support outside of abortion clinics, and hosting their unbelieving neighbors.
That would be a fantastic way to teach your family to take a stand regarding your beliefs and values.
However, the dangerous side comes with a double front:
One one side you have a phenomenon that has occurred all too frequently through history — that is — mentally indoctrinated children who do not truly believe what their parents believe being required to promote the concepts they themselves do not fully accept.
Even if your foundation is Bible, asking an unbeliever who is familiar with how to lead someone down the Romans Road to share the Gospel with others is a terrible idea. Here they are trying to persuade someone of what they don’t actually believe themselves.
In a best case scenario, both unbelievers come to know the Lord — and perhaps the Lord has been gracious enough to allow that to happen over the course of history. But in a worst case scenario — which is extremely more common — the unsaved evangelist continues to believe they’re born again because of their “obvious” good fruit, and the person to whom they’re giving the Gospel is repelled by its superficiality and hypocrisy.
The other obvious problem with family activism comes when the family is promoting the wrong things. This goes without saying.
So, what do we do with this information?
Your family needs to be activated about all the right things . . . starting first and foremost with our great God. Standing together as a family that lovingly proclaims the Truth in this dark world is extremely important and — may I add — absolutely vital if you and your family members call yourselves children of God.
In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus proclaims, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Did you catch that last line? "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
That kind of “activism” is amazing.
In addition to that, you and you kids can also advocate for other things about which you’re passionate. Just make sure your kids are really on-board before you conscript them to persuade others.
And — of course — make sure you keep the main thing the main thing. It would be depressingly awful if we became more passionate about our cause than we were our Creator and inadvertently taught our kids to worship the creation over the Creator.
Now, I originally planned to cover these four points in one episode, but when I finished my notes for points 1 through 3 and imagined the many, many things to be said about this 4th point, I realized that splitting the episode would be necessary.
The fourth and final point made in the article is . . .
4. “Mental Health Transparency”
Now, for some of you, that sounds like a super-important and exciting thing. Others may cringe.
Once again, I want to portray a biblically-centered approach to this topic. However, I understand that I cannot do full diligence to the topic during the last half of an episode.
It’s been my intention to discuss this topic in far more detail for quite some time. I even put a toe in the water in episode 296, “Parenting Angry Children | how to help angry kids with disabilities.” I hope you’ll listen to that episode as it introduces many important elements that can fill out our understanding of this topic.
But since I don’t want to rehash that fundamental information here, I’m going to — instead — step through the article and comment as we go. Hopefully, if nothing else, this will prompt valuable questions in our minds and drive us to find the answers in Scripture.
The article reads: “For years, parents — especially mothers — were expected to be ‘all things to everybody,’ said Hayles. She hopes 2020 will bring an end to that myth.
“‘We’re really starting to see the [breakdown] of this taboo of supermoms,’ she said. ‘We can talk about the hard parts of parenting. You love your children, but you might not like them in that particular moment.’
“It’s important that parents are able to be honest about how difficult it can be to raise children, said Hayles.
“‘Putting up this facade that you’re perfect parents and you always love your children [is going away]. People are starting to do away with that false narrative about motherhood.’”
Now, I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. Prideful, arrogant, selfish human hearts desperately want for everyone else to see only their best side. Admitting to faults and brokenness and sin is counterintuitive for most people.
James 5 admonishes us to “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be [spiritually] healed.”
Pretending to be a super-anything is immature at best.
No one at Truth.Love.Parent. wants anyone to think we’re perfect parents. We can speak with authority when our counsel is grounded in God’s Word because you don’t even have to have kids to quote God when He says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
I speak with confidence and authority about parenting because I’m not talking about what I do perfectly; I’m talking about what God does perfectly in us.
These epodes are just as much for me and my family as they are for yours.
So, I agree with Miss Hayles. “We can talk about the hard parts of parenting.” And that hearkens back to our discussion last time about parenting community.
But there is still a caution to be made. There is a dangerous pendulum swing where people are taking too much joy in their brokenness without the desire to be healed. James invites us to share our spiritual brokenness for the purpose of beseeching God that we may grow in our spiritual maturity.
In the same way arrogance and pride may tempt us to act as if we have it all together, the same arrogance and pride can tempt us to always be talking about our own woke suffering, authenticity, brokenness, genuineness, and transparency — which are generally codewords for glorying in our pain.
Paul modeled the right approach when — in II Corinthians 12:9-10 — he said, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”’Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul welcomed distress into his life only when it was prompted by the Lord’s work and it would result in his Savior being magnified. It wasn’t about him wearing a badge of dishonor or talking about his sin so people understood he was “authentic.” It wasn’t about the pain that came into his life as a result of his own sin. Paul took pride in the fact that Christ was glorified when he was beaten for Christ. God was his motivation, his strength, and his goal.
So, the article starts this point pretty well. But then the “parenting experts” apply this concept more specifically:
“Hayles hopes parents with postpartum depression will also become more able to openly discuss how difficult the illness can be.
“‘There’s not only one way to suffer from postpartum depression. Your entire personality, both physically and emotionally, has shifted and you have to come to terms with that,’ she said.
“‘How society views you, how your job views you, how you view yourself, how your spouse views you — it all changes. I would really like to see the conversation shift around how we talk about postpartum depression.’
“First and foremost, Hayles wants to expand the definition of postpartum depression beyond just the immediate weeks and months after childbirth.
“‘I think that it’s something that can arise later when you’re still trying to figure out your identity as a parent and child,’ she said. ‘I went to a maternal conference and they said you’re always postpartum after you’ve given birth.’
“By opening up that definition to include all parents, Hayles hopes the conversation about mental health can reach new heights and new parents can continue to find the support they need.’”
So, once again we have a smattering of good and bad. If nothing else, I hope I’m modeling how to approach information — even when it’s presented by people calling themselves experts. I hope this is how you respond to everything I say.
In I John 4:1 we're told: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Opinion must kneel before God’s throne in order for it to be accepted by God’s people. So, let’s pick this apart a little.
Miss Hayles said that she hopes that parents with postpartum depression will start sharing their struggles. That’s a great idea.
However, there is poor communication and misinformation in her statements. On one side, she assumes an accepted definition of postpartum depression. I know from my counseling and experience that no two women would describe their postpartum feelings the same way.
Second, she refers to postpartum depression as an illness. That’s not technically true.
From a strictly biological standpoint, any number of physical illnesses could produce symptoms that can be described as “depression.” However, depression is not an illness. A concert pianist can feel depressed because she gets into an automobile accident that crushes her hands. The illness was the breaking and swelling and potential infection of the hands. The depression was the response to the illness.
On the other hand, it’s exceedingly common these days to refer to “mental illness.”
For hundreds of years the accepted definition of illness went something like this: “a condition in which the body is harmed because an organ or part is unable to work as it usually does; a disease or sickness."
Modern definitions have made an interesting addition. They say, “a condition in which the body or mind is harmed because an organ or part is unable to work as it usually does."
But we must understand that — even scientifically speaking — the mind is not the brain. The “mind” is a conceptual entity that refers to how we think and believe. Of course, the world doesn’t accept the biblical description of humanity. If they did, it would make everything easier.
The Bible makes it clear that we have a physical component and a spiritual component. The spirit cannot be measured or observed by any scientific methods. Therefore, the world patently rejects the spirit and assumes we are solely biological beings.
This is why books published for post-graduate study in psychology admit they really don’t understand how the brain works and that they’re postulating — at best — about the mind. They’re desperately trying to force supernatural concepts into sadly limited constructs.
And yet, despite all of that, most of the world has simply accepted that illness — a word that refers to the breakdown of physical tissues — can apply to a mind.
A brain can be sick or distressed or hurt, but the mind cannot. Again, talking like that betrays a futile attempt to understand a spiritual reality within a solely biological framework.
Lastly, using the term “illness” also communicates that we are not responsible for it. However, when you remove culpability, you remove two things: hope and the need for change.
If my feelings of anxiety or depression are like hepatitis or mono, then I’m left thinking I’m incurable. There’s no hope!
Also, if they’re simply an illness for which I’m not responsible, then I’m a victim with no impetus to change my life. Consider pedophilia. For years it was considered a sin. Then it was deemed a mental illness. Now, it’s being called an acceptable reality.
Now, the example I’m going to give is only one limited example. But if what I’m explaining can occur even one out of one hundred times, then we can’t dismiss it entirely from our thinking.
If my feelings of depression have arisen because I don’t like that my parents are telling me I can’t have a girlfriend, and my school counselor tells me that I have a mental illness and sends me to a medical professional who prescribes mediation that actually causes more stresses to which I continue to respond in the wrong way . . . then I am in a destructive spiral with no hope for real joy.
What would have been the fix? If I had submitted to God’s Word and my parent’s authority and taken joy knowing that God is using my parents to help me grow in my maturity and conformity to Christ, I wouldn’t have felt depressed in the first place.
Again, not everyone has feelings of depression because they choose to sin, but it’s excessively common.
Yet, even if my feelings of depression are arising from a biological source, my response to them is still going to be regulated by God’s expectations for my life.
I know I’m going long today, but I want to share an extremely important resource with you. I admit it could be easy to dismiss what I’m saying because I’m “not a medical professional” or I’m not woke or I’m just one of those people or whatever trite excuses one could make.
So, please listen to the episode I’ve linked in the description. The podcast is called Truth in Love, and it’s offered by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. On this episode the host talks with two medical professionals who share some extremely vital information concerning prescription medication dolled out for cases of mental illness.
The research is fascinating, and the convenient sidelining of the scientific research is scary.
The episode is called, “Understanding Psychotropic Medication Biblically,” and it features Dr. Dan Gannon and his wife. Please take the 23 minutes to listen. It’s vital for people like us who are being told one thing by mainstream psychology and something very different from the Scriptures.
If 2020 is truly going to usher in growing mental health transparency in our parenting, then we need to make sure we’re being honest with the subject matter.
No, depression is not an illness. However, it is a physical and sometimes spiritual response to stimuli. That stimuli may be biological, it may be spiritual, it may be external, it may be internal, but it’s still just a response.
There is hope, and there is a cure. Even if the physical abnormality persists, there is still hope for abundant life in Christ.
As I bring everything to a close today, I find it interesting that Miss Hayles focus in her discussion on postpartum depression looks mostly on how we view ourselves and how others view us. She speaks of us having to come to terms with physicality and feelings changing. She discusses how society, our jobs, and our spouses view us. She mentions that it can arise from trying to figure out our identity.
There is no illness to speak of. She’s describing the struggles of a person who’s experienced a significant life change trying to grapple with it all. Her body changes, her relationships change, her sleep changes, her responsibilities change, he identify changes. These are all big ideas.
And yes, if you have no solid philosophical mooring, no spiritual grounding, you are going to feel completely upended. You’re going to experience pressure and stress that you won’t know what to do with.
But God’s Word has the answer. We can be open and honest about mental and spiritual health. It starts with the knowledge and understanding and belief of God’s revealed Word. From there we can talk about the possible physical illnesses or presenting problems. But without the Scripture, every man’s way is going to seem right in his own eyes.
If you wold be interested in seeking biblical help for the struggles in your home, don’t hesitate to contact Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com, and remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we ask “Why Does My Family Argue?”
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