Read an Excerpt
Rite of Passage Parenting Workbook
By Walker Moore, Marti Pieper
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Walker Moore
All rights reserved.
Handle with Care
Goals, Session One:
1. You will begin to understand and identify the roots of today's failure to produce capable, responsible, self-reliant adults: the rapid post-World War II shift from an agricultural to an industrial society.
2. You will begin to embrace the idea that you are a good parent who faces difficult challenges because of this cultural shift.
3. You will grow in your desire to learn and apply the "ancient path" of biblical principles of parenting to your own family life.
Welcome! Today marks a special day. You are reading these words because you are a good parent. I know you're a good parent because you cared enough to buy this Rite of Passage Parenting Workbook. Now, you can begin working through it on your own, with your spouse, or as a part of a study group. I want to welcome and encourage you: get ready! Get ready ... for all the great things God intends to do in your parenting and in your family life. He has wonderful plans for you and the ones you love.
If you've not already done so, I urge you to read the Introduction and User's Guide located immediately before this session. It explains the many handles you'll notice throughout these workbook pages. God intends you to grasp these handles tightly as you pick up ROPP and apply it to your own life. They will make it much easier for us when we start moving your family furniture around. The handles will help you understand the material more completely and give me a head start on ... making myself at home.
If you weren't already a good parent, you would never reach for handles in the first place. After all, only good parents think about things like improving their family life. You're the kind of good parent who's looking for handles that help you grasp God's Word, our world, and your family. You should know that the handles that jump out at you from the pages of the ROPP Workbook are the ones God intends to use very specifically in your life. They're the handles He intends for you: not your neighbor, and not the guy down the street. These handles may look a lot like the handles your parents used during your childhood—or they may be completely different. In fact, if you want to learn to handle your parenting even better than you already do ... you've come to the right place.
I don't have all the answers—but I do have ... handles. These have been shaped by years of study, prayer, and more than thirty years of working with young people and their families. They allow you to grab hold of the ROPP teachings and implement them in specific, practical ways. Today, we want to begin considering a huge handle that God showed me long ago: the cultural shift. Later, I'll explain more specifically what I mean, but for now ... make yourself at home. In fact, sit on the couch—maybe even pop a bowl or two of popcorn. We're ready to watch a little TV!
Make Yourself at Home
Remember the 70s television show, The Waltons? Whether you watched it as a child, young adult, or only in today's cable reruns, almost everyone remembers John and Olivia Walton and their brood of seven active children. Just for a moment, fire up your imagination and recall some of those special slices of life on Walton's Mountain. Perhaps your mind will replay a scene at the long oak table in the kitchen, a day spent with John, Sr. and the boys out at the sawmill, or some moments spent rocking on the porch with Grandpa. Close your eyes and recall the sights, sounds, smells, tastes—even the feel of Walton's Mountain.
Welcome back! What was Walton's Mountain really like? Remember—you didn't just read about it—you were there! I want to start out with a challenge: Write down the names of as many of the Walton children as you can. If you're part of a group, work together and see if you can come up with all seven names as quickly as possible.
Now, think about your brief visit to Walton's Mountain and then about your own family's life today. Times really have changed. None of us can say that we live just as the Waltons did. Make a few notes about the differences you noticed in dress, speech, work, school, etc. between the Walton family and your own.
Everyone likes nostalgia! We all enjoy looking to the past for expressions of meaning. In today's lesson, we will examine the ways our society has changed ... and how that change affects families today.
Modern scientists have uncovered a time capsule that you, at age ten, buried in the backyard of your childhood home. List three elements it would be likely to contain (for example, an eight-track tape, a banana seat from your favorite bike, and a stuffed Care Bear).
Think about your parents or grandparents. Answer the above question as if they had buried the time capsule as children. Even if you cannot name three items, try to list at least one or two.
Now for the real challenge: can you name the items your child (children) would include in a time capsule made today? If you do not have children yet, answer the question for a child you know well.
How It Shows
My own journey toward ROPP began when, as a youth minister, I confronted a huge problem more than thirty years ago.
Culture Shock: Even at ten years old, while growing up in a suburb north of Boston, Jessica F. was in and out of trouble. She had tried drinking and smoking, and had developed a habit of constantly lying to her parents. When it came time for her to get her driver's license, Jessica's parents were scared to death.... So, her stepfather Mark Pawlick bought what's called a black box and hid it in Jessica's car. By using global positioning system technology (GPS) to fix its location every second or so, the device is essentially an electronic tattletale. It automatically e-mails or calls Pawlick every time Jessica drives too fast, or goes somewhere she isn't supposed to. More and more teens will have to get used to the idea of "Big Mother" looking over kids' shoulders. With GPS technology getting cheaper, smaller and better, most any cell phone can be a tracking device for just a few extra dollars a month. A black box, like the one made by Alltrack that's in Jessica's car, costs a few hundred dollars, plus a monthly fee ... Many experts believe such tracking devices will soon be as mainstream as cell phones themselves.
"I think, over time, parents will feel if they don't have this, they're not being good parents," says Jim Katz, Director of the Rutgers University Center for Mobile Communication Studies.
There's no doubt about it. You had a response to this "Culture Shock" story as soon as you finished reading it. Circle the letter of the comment below that most closely resembles your thoughts:
a. Wow! This guy is being so careful—he must be a really good parent.
b. Oh no! I don't think the daughter should drive anything more powerful than a bike.
c. Oooh. This dad has a real problem—and I'm not sure it's just his daughter.
d. Cool! Where can I get the number for the black box company?
No one would argue against the idea that our society has changed drastically since World War II, but do we recognize the impact of those changes on families today? Play the following High-Low Game as you continue thinking about the cultural shift.
Listed below are some statistics about American family life today. Mark each with an H ("Higher") or L ("Lower"), indicating whether you believe the actual number is higher or lower than the one given here.
[check] ROPP By the Numbers:
1. 55 ... percent of twenty-somethings today who attended church as teens are not now actively praying, reading the Bible, or attending church.
2. 47 ... percent of grandparents whose relationship with their grandchildren, geographically and/or emotionally, is best described as "remote."
3. 30 ... percent of last year's college graduates still live with their parents (2006 statistics).
4. 28 ... percent of 18- to 20-year olds have parents who help them with chores.
Now, think about your own family. Since we're talking about numbers, I'm picking one of my favorites: twenty-one. I want you to keep this number in mind when you consider our next set of questions.
Where did you live and what was your job/school when you were twenty-one years old?
What about your dad (if you're a dad) or mom (if you're a mom)? Answer the same questions for him (her) at age twenty-one.
Finally, think all the way back to your grandparents. Again—men, think of your grandfather, and women, think of your grandmother, and answer those same questions once more! (If you don't know, and your grandparents are still living, this would make a great reason to ask them.)
Mom Speak: At first, the whole idea of a cultural shift did nothing but overwhelm me. What could something that sounded so big and confusing have to do with the way Tom and I raised our kids? When I began to think closer to home (read "like a mom"), this concept became much more real.
I looked at my dad's life. He grew up on a farm during the Depression/World War II era. By the time he was raising his own kids during the 1960s and 1970s, he had graduated from college with an engineering degree, begun working for a large corporation, and moved our family to a bedroom community of Cincinnati. Things had changed a lot since Dad was a boy! After all, he was driving tractors and doing a man's work in the fields when he was still in elementary school. No wonder the comfortable suburban neighborhood where we lived or the ways my brother and I spent our time made very little sense to him.
Think about your own family through the generations. You don't have to look far to realize that the changing culture has reshaped the way we live. Where did your parents grow up? Their parents? When you look at it from this more personal angle, I think you'll start to see how the cultural shift affects you and your family every day.
The Bible teaches us that we should not only look to the past in nostalgia, but also that we should learn from its wise instruction. Jeremiah tells us, "Thus says the Lord, 'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls'" (Jeremiah 6:16 NASB).
Nearly every day, I deal with people who do not have rest for their souls. They're doing the best they can—but their families are broken. They've tried to do everything right—but their kids have turned out wrong. I faced these same struggles during my years of youth ministry. In fact, these struggles started me on the journey that brought me to the principles of ROPP. I wanted to find out how to "fix it" for the hopeless, helpless, hurting parents and young people I worked with every day. I wanted to show them how to find peace, satisfaction, and ... rest.
Since the Scriptures told me that rest came from returning to the "ancient paths," I began to wonder: Exactly what are these paths? As I studied this passage, I looked at the word ancient, or in Hebrew, olam. I discovered that olam does not mean chronologically old, but concealed, original, timeless, out of eternity. That meant that an "ancient path" is a path from eternity past to eternity future.
Think back with me to the beginning—the very beginning of life in Genesis 1. When God created the heavens and earth and everything in them, He pronounced His creation good in every way. He not only stamped "goodness" upon them, but He also embedded it within them, implanting it within the core of their being. Each of the many elements of His amazing creation was built for eternity, timeless, with its own intentional design and purpose that was good.
Have you ever watched as a flock of geese flies south for the winter? Have you seen a retriever lift its nose and tail as it "points" toward a bird? Every summer and fall, hundreds of squirrels visit my backyard, filling their cheeks with nuts that they bury and put away for colder days. No one taught these animals to carry out these tasks. I began to realize that these unconscious, purposeful behaviors—the ones scientists call instinct—are the ancient paths that God implanted within His creation.
Every single animal, every plant and tree, every star and planet—every part of His creation has His ancient paths built deep inside it. Man can certainly manipulate the ancient path. He can train the dog or cause the hatchling goose to imprint to himself rather than to another goose—but he cannot change the Creator's hidden intention. God has built His ancient order into His creation, and each component lives out the design He has implanted within it.
As a unique part of God's creation, man also has "ancient paths" deep within His design. He is the only aspect of creation that God described with the superlative—He pronounced man "very good." However, man is also the one element of God's creation that has a will, allowing him to accept or reject His way. We follow God's ancient paths for our lives not by instinct, but by obedience—by choice.
Deep within our hearts, God has placed the design for life. He has concealed inside us the desire and ability to build wholesome, healthy families that produce capable, responsible, self-reliant adults who will build wholesome, healthy families and ... you get the picture. God has this wonderful design stamped on the very fiber of our being! When we willfully reject it by turning away from Him, we go out on our own paths and reject His eternal purposes for our lives.
As I went on my journey to discover how to "fix it" for my family and others, I noticed that other cultures contained some experiences that ours lacked. I could go deep into the jungles of Panama with the Embera Puru people, or into the heart of the Karamajong tribe in Uganda, and find the same essential experiences. These people did not struggle to produce capable, responsible, self-reliant adults. In fact, their children crossed the line from childhood to adulthood naturally, appropriately, and at much younger ages than those in our advanced Western world. I began to wonder if the solution to what's missing in our parenting lay in these ancient paths that the other cultures retained.
Jeremiah tells us that when we're in trouble, when things are not going well, it's time to stop and evaluate. He encourages us to "see" and "ask," to survey our lives and see whether we are raising our children according to the ancient paths, according to the good way in which God designed for us to live.
The Enemy of our souls has a problem with that. Since he knows that the ancient paths placed within our hearts will bring us closer to God and His truth, he tries any tricks he can to lead families away from it. No, the devil doesn't make us do it—but he certainly mixes up our culture and whispers lies to us about what we should and shouldn't do as parents. The resulting cultural chaos has robbed families of the ability to raise capable, responsible, self-reliant children by taking them far away from the will and Word of God.
As you read ROPP and begin to apply its principles through this workbook, I'm praying you'll find it pointing you not to me, but to the ancient paths that God has placed within you. When you do, you will find a new joy in parenting. Then you will find "rest for your souls."
Essential Experience: Rite of Passage Parenting
What Are the Odds? I have lived and worked in lower Alabama off and on for over fifty years. As a boy, I experienced the thrill of riding with my family out to the cotton-white fields on a wagon full of equally poor folks. We were all just trying to survive.
We would work all day sunup to sundown, dragging eight-foot cotton sacks down the rows of cotton, picking it from the sharp husks, pushing it into the sacks. What did we get for our efforts? Five cents a pound, bleeding fingers, sore backs—and something much more valuable. At Saturday morning paydays, adults pooled their money with their children, buying just the basics: fatback to add to the beans, a chicken, a new pair of shoes, even some clothes. Life was tough, but we learned that the family who pulled together would have its needs met—some of them, anyway. Even as children, we did an adult's work, and we took pride in our accomplishments. We knew that we mattered.
Excerpted from Rite of Passage Parenting Workbook by Walker Moore, Marti Pieper. Copyright © 2007 Walker Moore. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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