The ERLC Parenting Conference was impressive in terms of organization and content.
Jen Wilkin’s talk – Raising an Alien Child – sticks out to me. When we met several years ago,I realized how similar our values were. Here is her outline and some quotations. So much practical wisdom here.
We are going to ask our children to think and live differently than the world in five different areas.
1. Activities – An alien child will spend his/her time differently than to other children. 10:00
The author of Deuteronomy assumed families would sit, walk, lie down, and rise up together.
A high school counselor said the most common reason he sees kids is depression and anxiety due to exhaustion and overscheduling.
Children that have family dinners four times a week are in a lower risk category for risky behaviors. Family dinner might be the most countercultural thing you do.
So be careful in the activities you sign up for and think about how they impact the family.
2. Speech – An alien child will not sound like other children. 19:40
The alien child will use kind words. Sarcasm is a form of verbal bullying. Sarcasm always has a victim. Someone is always paying the bill. We need to train in kind words. We want to set ourselves up as the experts. We train a child in the language of reconciliation.
3. Possessions – An alien child will not own what others own when they own it. 26:25
We teach delayed gratification because we are a people of delayed gratification. This is a basic skill of being a Christ-follower.
4. Entertainment – An alien child will not watch, read, or listen to what other children do. 32:45
We too often choose entertaining over training. Long car trips are not a time for everyone to zone out in their own world. Entertainment is also ceasing to be a shared value. We don’t just enjoy entertainment but we should enjoy enjoying the entertainment together.
5. Friends – An alien child will not invest in the same kinds of relationships. 37:00 No drama is allowed. Train children to be friends with each other. When it comes to sibling rivalry, you cannot neutralize it but you should not normalize it. We can raise them to be friends with each other.
And of course the only way to hope to raise an alien child is to be an alien parent.