I just went with my daughter to her college orientation/registration week at MTSU in Tennessee. And there I heard very disparate things from what I hear about parents when I'm at church gatherings.
The VP of student affairs spent time with us parents and she talked about what she knows about us. She said that we're the generation of parents who had our kids on preschool waiting lists when we were pregnant with them, bought the "baby on board" signs, coached our kids' little league teams or called the coach to complain about why they weren't getting enough play time–and more. She called us "helicopter parents." And she did it all in such a congenial way that parents laughed as they saw themselves in her descriptions. She also said that we parents have been known to be too involved in our students' college life and job searches.
Enter schizophrenia. Because what I hear at church gatherings is how checked out today's parents are and how they don't care about their kids' faith development. I hear how parents won't volunteer, won't get plugged in, won't disciple their kids. (Are these the same overinvolved parents the VP talked about? What's true?)
Then I saw a post on facebook from a parent who was glowing about the family devotion time their family had had. Kids had acted out the Bible creatively and more. (And I wondered what century am I in?)
Is that the big divide? Can we in the church not stop holding up parents to this unrealistic standard of what "caring about their kids' faith" looks like? Unrealistic family devotion nights? Are we at risk of missing out on just how crazy involved parents are and what they are willing to do to pass on faith to their kids?
At the orientation, I spoke with a mom who said she didn't go to church but there's a reason she's raising her kids in the "buckle of the Bible belt"–morality. She said she and her girls spent hours in the car every day going to what we in the church would call distractions–soccer, ballet, school. That is where, I can guarantee, this mother is passing on her values to her kids. Like so many other parents today.
Maybe that's what Deuteronomy 6 is about. It doesn't say we need to do involved devotions, but instead that we need to pass on our faith throughout the everydayness of our lives–in the car, at the table, watching TV, while texting.
I pray that God will open our eyes to see parents and families accurately so we can indeed impact families and reach them in ways they'll understand and respond to.