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Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture

(Harvest House)


Parenting by Braille

By Mary E. DeMuth

CBN.comMy friend Laina, whom I mentioned earlier, likens postmodern parenting to what she calls “parenting by braille.”

“I parent by touch,” she said. “By feel. All I can do sometimes is reach for Jesus when I am not sure how to figure out parenting. He shows me what to do along the way.” This organic approach has helped Phil and Laina parent their children in a society embracing everything and anything but Christianity.

“I want to pursue the souls of my children,” Laina said, “to let them know they can be themselves, to give them that freedom.” The result? Her children go to her with their complex issues. They trust a mom who parents by braille, who cheers for them while begging Jesus to give her wisdom, who is willing to admit she doesn’t have all the answers. “We have worked hard at asking good questions rather than giving right answers,” her husband, Phil, added.

Shifting our thinking from a formulaic step-by-step method to walking blindly with Jesus through the adventure of parenting is not easy. Jesus never promised that following Him down narrow paths was undemanding. Peter left his livelihood, exchanging stability for uncertainty, following a carpenter who claimed He was the Son of God. Paul had to shed his religion to follow Jesus. He faced persecution for the rest of his life. What makes us think that following Jesus as we parent will be any different?

A Unique Perspective

Mark Driscoll, pastor and author of The Radical Reformission, developed a unique perspective on what our goal should be as followers of Christ. Consider his words in light of parenting your children: “I learned that God’s mission is not to create a team of moral and decent people but rather to create a movement of holy loving missionaries who are comfortable and truthful around lost sinners and who, in this way, look more like Jesus than most of his pastors do.”

Sophie, our eldest, is becoming a follower of Jesus who is comfortable and truthful around lost sinners. A few months into school on French soil, mean girls started teasing her. When she fell headlong into a field, muddying her pants during PE class, one of the girls said, “Look at that American. She’s a baby. She fell.” Later, those same girls scrawled a mean comment about one of Sophie’s friends on a school wall. Sophie’s friends, who don’t yet know Christ, wanted revenge. Sophie said, “If we return the favor, they will too. It’s better to forgive.” That evening as Sophie recounted the day, she talked about her struggle to love the mean girls. “It’s really hard to love your enemies,” she said.

Sophie was surrounded by wealthy students. She often heard kids say, “My dad makes so much money,” or “We’re buying a second home.” This is followed by, “What does your dad do?” Sophie answered honestly, but I could tell she had a twinge of pain, the kind of pain that wanted her daddy to have the same kind of job he had in the States. When she said, “My dad’s a pastor,” one of the girls laughed at her. When we secured our church office, she seemed relieved. Her daddy had a real job.

Aidan had his own battle. He was troubled by the emphasis on evolution in his class. He came home one day and said, “I heard the goofiest thing today. Our teacher thinks we came from apes.” But then he had a test over the information presented in class, and the night before, he was in conflict. He is a good student and wanted to do well on his test, but he didn’t want to answer the questions with answers about evolution. We prayed for him. Late that night, I climbed the ladder to his bunk bed and prayed for him again. Our cat, Madeline, who always knows which child or adult needs her the most, was curled around his legs.

Julia’s teacher yelled at her. Julia didn’t know why. Then the teacher took her chair and put her in the hall for “a long time” according to our daughter. And Julia’s turncoat friend was at it again. She took Julia’s things—the snack we give her each day, her prized cache of marbles—and didn’t return them. One morning, Aidan said, “I’m keeping Julia’s snack and marbles in my backpack. I hope Julia and I have the same recess so I can give these to her when she needs them.”

Our dear, sweet boy is becoming a man, protecting his sister from a bully. When Julia heard Aidan’s protective words, she threw her arms around him and thanked him.

Julia asked her classmates if they knew God. “Mom,” she said. “No one really knows God in my school.” Still, she kept telling them.

Little by little, our children are learning to follow Jesus down His kingdom path. They’re learning life’s not all about them. Though Patrick and I often feel that we—like Laina—are parenting by braille, we were encouraged to see our children had hearts like Jesus in the midst of a very difficult school environment. It gave me hope that perhaps this inside-out, kingdom-minded parenting thing is working on a heart level. That training and mentoring our children is preparing them for a postmodern world that desperately needs to know Truth personified.


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Adapted from Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture: Practical Help for Shaping Your Children's Hearts, Minds, and Souls by Mary E. DeMuth. Published by Harvest House Publishers.

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