Friday, September 14, 2012

Not a freakshow

Two blog posts in one week. Is this a sign of end times?

Anyway, this thought has been stirring around in my head for a while, but I finally verbalized it to my mother the other day and thought, "Hey, I need to write about this." So here you go.

Popular culture would have you believe that Christians are a bunch of crazies. They like to throw around words like "EEEE-van-gelicals" and "fundaMENTALists," any time someone professes a belief in Christ. We're some train wreck, a side show so sad and so funny at the same time people can't help but look at us and shake their heads in disbelief.

I'm totally obsessed with the United Bates of America. The Bates are a Tennessee family with 19 of the most kind, gentle, funny, sweet kids ever (mine excluded...except for gentle). They are friends of the Duggars (I'm not as nuts about them, but it's just a matter of taste), and had a 20/20 type special a while back. The report who followed them loved them, but just couldn't get over some of the finer points of their faith. Now they have a show on TLC, right in the line up with Honey Boo Boo and the Hoarders and all the other legitimate whackos of the world. (That may seem harsh, but COME ON. You know it's true!)

I enjoy watching the Bates because they are a shining example of everything wholesome in the world. They are frugal, and I enjoy learning all the cool things they do to make ends meet. They are creative, talented, and just so very well behaved. It is such a relief to see them after everything else on television shows disrespectful, immodest teens and self-absorbed parents. The Bates show me that good still exists.

They have 19 kids. SO WHAT? They take care of them all. They homeschool them, all of them are musical, and they are hard working. This doesn't make them freaks.  They are obedient to their understandings of the Bible. What a concept.

Another TLC creation that boggles my mind is the Breaking Amish program. I refuse to watch this because I think it embodies the exact opposite of what I love about the Bates. Young Amish folks are leaving their faith communities to taste the world. Now, that's fine, but why glorify it? Why make them look like they are so lucky to be escaping? They are leaving a sheltered world of earnest, hard working, God fearing folks and embarking on a journey of experimenting with all the world has to offer, i.e. sin.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that good Christian people doing normal every day things would make for entertainment that most of our sinsick world would be interested in watching and possibly emulating. Nope. I know people are much more willing to indulge in Snooki and her drunken friends, or Honey Boo Boo and her hot mess mama. Those folks make us feel a little better about ourselves. The Bates make us realize how short we fall, so, in order to keep from feeling guilty about that, we demonize them. They only wear skirts? Long hair? Oh, my. They don't kiss before marriage? How ridiculous, since everyone who has any sense knows that you could never be happy unless you've had a plethora of sexual partners.  Decency? Purity?  Morality? Practicing that earns you a spot in the freakshow, too.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Realizations I've had as a parent

Perhaps it is this phase of my children's lives that has brought some new realizations to light. Maybe I'm just a slow learner. Whatever the case, I've been learning a whole lot recently about my kids, my tendencies as a parent, and how we work together.

1. I wish I could be more like Kelly Bates (the mom of 19 on United Bates of America), except I don't want any more kids. She's kind and patient and she never yells or complains. The only time I fit this description is while I sleep.

2. I have FINALLY learned to communicate with Jack and Sam. My relationship with both of them has improved tremendously. Most things I'm doing are common sense and other good moms have been doing it all along, but not me. When I teach them an expectation, we practice it. A LOT. We practice the right way and the wrong way. They are behaving much better for me. I think I assumed they  knew all this.

3. Audrey and I are enjoying our special time together every night. We're reading By the Shores of Silver Lake (a Little House on the Prairie book) and studying the book of Matthew.  We've read three other prairie-set novels since school started. This one is longer but well worth it.

4. My kids watch too much TV. We've cut out a LOT of it. I am considering dropping cable. I think less TV has been directly proportional to better behavior.

5. I am not a competitive mom. I hate HATE hate YMCA sports. I hate the yelling. I hate the parents grousing when another kid (often mine!) screws up and the team doesn't score. We will not be participating in any more competitive team sports this year- Audrey is going to take tennis, and the boys might do martial arts. I want them to learn discipline, dedication, and the joy of a skill. I don't want people screaming at them.

6. In order for our family to function well, we must spend time together. The more the kids are at the grandparents, in activities, or doing their own thing, the more we fuss and grump.