One of the strange (and yet refreshing) aspects of homeschooling is that our kids can be pretty naive about some of the habits of the world. Most of the time I see this as very good, but at times it can create awkward situations. For example, they often find themselves completely clueless about what other kids are talking about, especially when they swear. We are very open with our kids, so over the years, every now and then they come to me and ask…
“What does s&*% mean? or “Some kid called me a $%#&, is that a compliment?”
Then I have the painful job of telling them….”no kids, that is not a compliment.” As they have gotten older the questions have become more and more frequent, so last week i pulled together my tweens (I have 3 of them) and told them to ask me any question they wanted about the mysterious world of swearing. I have rarely seen my children so engaged and attentive. As I imparted my knowledge, they had some fascinating questions and comments…
Here are some of the most insightful ones:
- “is there something special about the poop of a bull?“
- “so THAT word can be used as a NOUN, a VERB, OR an ADJECTIVE!” (that’s right Isaac, the standard rules of speech do not apply in this arena)
- “it seems like many of these words are not being used in line with their original meaning“
- “OH! I just thought that some kids don’t know which finger to use to point” (my all-time favorite comment)
- “that’s a swear word? oops, i may have said that to my soccer coach“
- “you have sworn a lot in your life, haven’t you dad?” (they were in awe of my knowledge)
- “Whoa. I better be careful. Mom doesn’t even like when I say STUPID. ” (to describe the intensity of the word I rated them based on how outraged their mother would get if she heard them)
To be honest, in the midst of it I had this lingering feeling of “should I be talking about this?” & “Is this going to make them swear?”
But there was something so refreshing about having them talk about these things with me. Not because it is good to swear, or we want to glorify it in anyway. But they had a place of safety where they could ask any question they wanted. With no insecurity or awkwardness or fear. No risk of ridicule.
I asked them if they were ever tempted to swear. In a fit of honesty, some of them said yes. A couple admitted that they “say those words in their head sometimes.” They looked sheepish, until I said, “me too.” Then they were just shocked.
Look at these angels…who knows?…they may have been cussing in their heads during this picture….
As we talked I was able to put the words into the context of not just what these words mean, but also how they are used, and most importantly why people use them in our culture. We talked about self-control. And love. And the power of our speech. And we brought Jesus into the conversation. (I started getting the “I think Dad’s giving us a sermon” look right around then, but I pressed on anyway)
Heather and I are certainly no parenting experts, but this is one of the things we pray for our children. That in the midst of all the doubts, temptations, failures, struggles and awkward topics that come from living in this broken world…..we would have a close enough relationship that shame or embarrassment would never keep them asking us about life.
In fact, I think we need MORE candid conversations about life in our families, not less.
Well, every year on our campus we see men and women who are deeply struggling with questions, doubts and fear…and for years they have felt too embarrassed and ashamed to talk to someone. “They will be disappointed with me.” , “They will be horrified by my questions or struggles.” (this is especially true of the ones raised in Christian homes)
And so they shut it all down. And begin to feel alone and unknown. (think Elsa in Frozen)
“They don’t know me.”…..”No one knows me.”
And every year we get the joy of seeing these same men and women come into the light and unload this baggage. And receive grace. And answers. And community. And come to the startling realization….I’m not the only one.
It is so beautiful. And we desire to have our children experience this right now. By having us develop that sort of relationship with them. Even though I KNOW the questions and confessions will certainly get more intense and distressing!
But it is worth it. Because we want them to be close to us, but MOST IMPORTANTLY,
We hope that as they grow closer to the Lord, our relationship will model for them what their relationship with the Lord can be like.
He is approachable. We can ask Him questions. And share our heart. The good, the bad and the ugly, just look at the Psalms! And He won’t be surprised, even if our questions are awkward, or show our immaturity. He is never surprised. He’d love to talk, and give us wisdom….and truth…..and comfort.
Not just to say, “you’re ok”. We are most definitely not ok. But to bring Jesus into the conversation. Because He belongs there.
I am just hoping this particular conversation doesn’t come back to haunt me.