Hello and welcome to Parent Like You Mean It – the podcast were we talk about parenting each and every day in a manner that seizes every opportunity to instill amazing character in our kids. I’m Jefferson Drexler, and just like you, I answer the bell every morning, rise from my corner and fight the good fight as well as I can.
Speaking of which, my wife and I were recently treated to a six-week “Self Defense Training” trial at our son’s martial arts studio. “It’s a great workout!” said their instructor, “Plus, you’ll get a better feel for what your boys are learning.”
So we signed up.
And their instructor was right – we gained new perspectives and experienced incredible physical workouts (my arms and quads hurt just thinking about it… but hurt in the “good way”, at least that’s what the instructor called it)
But, one thing I didn’t expect was what we would walk away with. For instance, whenever I would be doing a punching drill “by the numbers”, just trying to get the technique down, my technique actually suffered. “You need to mentally put this drill into context”, said our instructor. “Remember, you’re training for the situation where someone is trying to get to your wife and kids. They are bad guys. They are not going to stop unless you MAKE them give up.” With that mental image, suddenly my punches were on target, much more forceful, and purposeful.
My gym experience went from a workout to a true training session.
Then, I looked across the mat at my bride. Now, my wife is the poster child for petite-demureness. She stands at a whopping 5’2”, weighing in at a mere 100 lbs. In my mental context, she’s going to NEED my fists because she’s just so dang tiny. Yet, what I saw across the mat was a woman who would give Ronda Rousey a round she wouldn’t forget. She was a lean, mean fighting machine – training to protect her kids.
Needless to say, we both hope that we’ll never arrive at a point where we need to use these new skills, but I pity the fool who would ever endanger us, our kids, or anyone we care for. We have a new, well-developed, and effective set of tools in our back pocket should anyone come against us.
And this got me thinking.
In a recent post, I wrote about the rapid trend in our culture toward relativism: What is good for you may be bad for me, and that’s all okay. There is no universal standard of right, wrong, good, nor bad. And the truth is, our kids are being taught this starting as young as the second grade. Sure, it’s not as deliberate as the way I just put it, but it is widely taught that judgment claims are mere opinions, while facts are things that are true and can be tested or proven.
Well, just like my wife and I learning to throw (and take) a punch, should the situation arise, we are constantly training our kids to defend themselves against this moral decay that I see spreading across our culture.
I know, you just called me a “Homeschooling Alarmist”… I heard you! But, let’s look at the big picture and the trajectory that we are heading in.
In his recent column, “America’s Decay Is Speeding Up”, Dennis Prager wrote regarding what he calls “The End of Right and Wrong”:
“At least two generations of American young people have been taught that moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences… This extends to assessing the most glaring of evils. Since the Nazis thought killing Jews was right, there is no way to know for sure whether it was wrong; it’s the Nazis’ opinion against that of the Jews and anyone else who objects. I have heard this sentiment from American high school students – including many Jewish ones – for 30 years.”
Then, Prager continues his assessment of our societal decay in regards to “The End of Religion”:
“There are no moral truths because there is no longer a religious basis for morality. More than the Enlightenment, it was the Bible – especially the Hebrew Bible (which was one reason America’s Christians were different from most European Christians) that guided the founders’ and other Americans’ values. Not anymore. Instead of being guided by a code higher than themselves, Americans are taught to rely on their feelings to determine how to behave. Instead of being given moral guidance, children are asked, ‘How do you feel about it?’”
Apparently, John Lennon’s words have developed from “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try…” to “It’s a fact, there’s no religion, too”. Sadly, as we can see in any news source, the lack of religion, hope of heaven, fear of hell, or reasons to kill or die for has not led to all the people living life in peace… quite the opposite actually.
But enough Lennon’s dreams… back to Prager’s pearls of wisdom. The decay of our educational system doesn’t stop in the second grade. Dennis took a look at our nation’s higher education and noted a marked decline there as well:
“Compared to nearly all of American history, the average American school teaches much less about important subjects such as American history, English grammar, literature, music and art. Instead, schools are teaching much more about ‘social justice,’ environmentalism and sex.
Most universities have become secular seminaries for the dissemination of leftism. Moreover, aside from indoctrination, students usually learn little. One can earn a BA in English at UCLA, for example, without having read a single Shakespeare play.
To the extent that American history is taught, beginning in high school and often earlier, American history is presented as the history of an immoral nation characterized by slavery, racism, colonialism, imperialism, economic exploitation, and militarism – not of a country that, more than any other, has been the beacon of freedom to mankind, and the country that has spent more treasure and spilled more blood to liberate other peoples than any other nation.”
So, in the face of all this, what are we to do?
Well, for starters, we train up our kids in self-defense. No, I’m not talking about jabs and crosses, I’m talking about defending the Cross.
In too many Christian households across our country, our kids’ moral education is being left to their teachers, Sunday school teachers and Youth Group Leaders. We’ve already established the wide-sweeping trend of moral relevancy that resides in our public schools, so I won’t beat that dead horse. But, the truth is that even the most devoted of middle schoolers spends 90 minutes each week in Sunday School and another two hours at youth group on Wednesdays. Most of this time is spent playing games, singing songs, or silly ice breakers (even when the ice is sufficiently crushed). This means that by the time these “intellectual sponges” reach college, they have received a whopping twelve days of moral and spiritual training throughout their junior high and high school years. TWELVE DAYS!
A dozen days may be enough for training at In-N-Out Burger, but not nearly enough for lifelong moral and spiritual foundations to be established.
So, that leaves the heavy lifting, the day-in-day-out training, the instilling, establishing and developing of their moral fortitude up to you. You, the parents.
Our kids – the teens, pre-teens, grade-schoolers, kinders, and pre-schoolers walking around today – are about to face greater hurdles and obstacles than we parents ever imagined. It was once commonplace to encounter a philosophy or sociology professor who questioned Judeo-Christian values, but our kids are about to face off with an entire culture that says Biblical standards are archaic, irrelevant, and straight-up wrong.
Will your kids have an answer to that?
Keep in mind, these will be their peers, their lab partners, their fraternity brothers, their professors, their competition… the ones they will want to impress.
How will they answer?
Unless you – yes YOU – instill in them not only WHAT is right, but WHY it is right, they won’t answer well. Definitely not with uncompromising conviction.
You see, in the same way that I look at my wife after our self defense classes and know that she’s got the skills to take down just about any creep that would dare confront her or our kids, I can rest assured that my son will be able to stand his ground in the face of questionable morality, ungodly perspectives, and self-centered peer pressure.
But, unlike our self-defense class, the lessons we teach our kids are not once a week for six weeks. They are non-stop, seven-days-a-week, at all hours of the day. Our kids’ morality lessons come from our day-in-day-out decisions, habits and behaviors that model what it means to be consistently confident and uncompromising in our faith and in doing what is right and good.
And unlike our self-defense skills that I hope we never have to use, I actually look forward to hearing stories from our kids when they face off with a professor with an opposing view, new friends pressuring them to go somewhere or do something that Scripture teaches is wrong (therefore it is wrong), or the giant cultural wave of stuff that they’ll be hit with once life stops revolving around our dinner table.
Of course, there are times when they won’t want to listen, as well as times when I don’t want to teach. There are even times when they are observing and learning and I desperately wish that they weren’t watching my terrible example. But, as a parent who is intentionally seizing every day to raise my kids to be amazing adults, that’s the type of “morality class” we must teach and they must attend. Because when they graduate my class, the real test only begins.
If nothing else, I hope that they keep in mind the words of one of my personal Biblical heroes when Peter wrote:
“Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Know what is right. Do what is right. Stand your ground.