Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for July, 2012

Tips On Talking to Teens

I am now on teen number seven, so I figured I share a few of the things I learned along the way. I hope it helps!

1. Stick with the facts and make them practical. One of my children was on a sports team where many of the players did drugs. He was behaving and making good choices so we allowed him to remain on the team. One day he came home and tried out the statement, ‘I don’t see why drugs are illegal.’ It became obvious that this was the theory that his new friends had bought into. Instead of focusing on all the harm drugs can do we decided to be practical. We did not leave out the harm they do, but it was not our main focus. Remember, no teen likes his friends to be completely wrong; there is a loyalty there, and so far in their drug careers it at least looked like these boys were doing drugs and doing fine. Later he would see them lose jobs and destroy their lives, but not yet, so we were fighting his limited perceptions which told him we were wrong, people who do drugs do just fine. Instead we chose to emphasize that fact that, right or wrong, drugs are illegal and if you get caught that will be a stain that will damage your chances of getting hired for the rest of your life. The price is too high to risk it if you want to succeed in life. (And he did want to succeed.) Find a reason your child cares about and make that your main point.

2. Give them reasons upon reasons for not doing things. When talking about premarital sex we emphasize not only the STDs, but every aspect of difficulty that comes with having a child out of wedlock. We also emphasize that a boy is not caring for a girl by potentially putting her in a position where she will have to face her parents alone (even if they tell them together, they are not married so she will eventually have to be alone with them). Bringing a baby into the world should be a time for hugs and congratulations, not a time of stress wondering how you are going to manage. By giving them multiple reasons you increase the chances that they will find a reason that truly matters to them. Unless they believe they should wait, they will not succeed in denying themselves, nor will they understand the need for birth control. In adopting older children we learned the importance of ‘buy-in.’ Unless the teen truly believes it themself, they will only wait until they think they will not get caught to do it.

3. Maintain a strong relationship with them. This does not mean that you need to smother them, but there should be relaxed family time that occurs regularly when you talk about everything and nothing. If the only time you discuss things is when you feel the need to talk to them about something uncomfortable they will not listen. The situation will prove so uncomfortable that their only focus will be, ‘Can I go now.’ A strong relationship with your teen makes these talks easier, and that involves spending time, much time, with them. (It’s the only reason I see for fishing!)

4. Handle the little issues well. If you over-react when they dent the fender you can be sure they are not going to come to you when they are being tempted by drugs and sex. You are not a ‘safe’ person, and they don’t like being yelled at. Sure, there are times to yell. Two of my teens ran into a building as it was being torn down for fun. We got them out and the lecture was pretty intense. But they were going to die from thinking like that. Most situations are really just minor inconveniences. When you blow them out of proportion what you say is, ‘I don’t have the time or the patience to help you when you mess up.’ It gives your teen the impression that they have to be prefect, which they are not, so they learn to hide things from you instead.

5. Help them define their goals. Teens with goals tend to do less self-destructive things than teens without goals. They do not want to mess up their chances of the glorious future they see themselves having. Talking about careers, having them job-shadow, and getting them on the path early helps. They may change paths, but they see themselves as being able to achieve, and that is important.

6. Strengthen their self-esteem. Find ways to give them confidence. Lies and flattery do not do this. (They’re not that dumb!) Succeeding in things that are important to them does. Find something they like and are good at and allow them to invest time in it. This may also mean that you invest time in it. Sitting in the hot sun all day to see your child run for less than five minutes is indeed a hard way to spend a Saturday when you have other children and a million things to do, but it is worth it to them. Volunteer work (helping others) also helps them to see themselves as a worthwhile human being. Believing they can do meaningful things, and achieve what they thought was not possible helps them feel good about who they are. This will help them to resist peer pressure, as they are no longer placing all of their worth in their friend’s opinion of them. Now, if they are bad at sports, this may only put them in a position where they feel the need to be part of the team any way they can, and puts them at risk for doing whatever the other teens want in order to please them. For this reason I like the martial arts, since, in a good do-jang, the only one you are truly competing against is yourself. Anyone can achieve rank if they try hard enough.

7. Let them know they are loved. This can be hard since they are naturally pulling away from the family and are on their way to adulthood. Figure out what they like to do and make sure you do it as a family. Pay attention to them while they talk. Treat them like you would want them to treat you.

8. Begin to treat them more like an adult and less like a child. This involves increasing their responsibilities (laundry, getting up on their own etc), but it also involves asking them their opinion and including them in conversations about things that affect them. When they marry you will need to compromise in order to fit everyone’s wants and needs into what the families are planning to do together. It helps to start practicing now, before there are ‘in-law’ issues, because spouses do not think they need to jump every time you speak (and they are right). Your teen also learns to work around your needs, so they do not get to be little dictators either. Practicing young makes later in life more enjoyable, and there are less fights. Too often a parent has put their foot down and demanded family time when the teen had other obligations (work, team practice etc). If given enough notice and they see that an effort was made to rearrange things so that there would be minimal inconvenience to them, the teen might gladly rearrange things, and miss some other things. Telling them that they will do it at that last minute and then complaining about their attitude is a recipe for disaster. They are older and have commitments to other people now. A little advanced notice and inclusion in the planning is not unreasonable.

9. Demonstrate a good attitude. If you are always complaining and grumpy how can you expect them to be any different? If you get your feelings under control, and learn not to blow up and lash out at those you love, only then can you expect them to do the same. Do you remember what it felt like to be a teen? The intensity of your emotions is at a peak during this time. If the parent is not demonstrating a good degree of maturity themselves then their is no hope that the teen will follow suit, and your house will be miserable.

10. Respect your spouse and those around you. Your teen learns by example. They will not respect your spouse, or others if they watch you slam them every time you get upset, even if it is behind their backs. Clean up your own act, and then you can help them clean up theirs.

11. Now is the time for ‘natural consequences.’ When they are adults, they will need to face the consequences for what they have done. Ease them into it by starting now. Natural consequences work too because it is not just you grounding them, but a very real result of what they have done. For instance, if they leave tools out to rust, they clean them up or buy new ones. If they get traffic tickets so their insurance rates go up, they now pay for their own policy. If they use every towel in the bathroom, then they need to do a load of laundry. You see how this works?

I hope this helps. But remember, every child has free-will. They will not always do what you want. Good luck with that!

How To Find A Godly Wife

What is often missed while discussing Proverbs 31 is that this is not for women! It is actually a list of instructions that a godly mother gave to her son (King Lemuel) on how to find an awesome wife. So while even I go over this list and preach it to women (mainly because it has been stressing them out for years) I will now condense it and share it with you!

Here’s what God’s Word says you should look for in a wife: (after ‘mom’ here reminds you (her son) not to go after loose women, not to be a drunkard, and to stick up for those who are being mistreated… Apparently you do not deserve a ‘good’ woman if you cannot handle this!)

1. First we are reminded that a godly wife (one who has noble character- notice it does not say ‘one who is ‘hot’!) is worth more than riches (rubies).

2. She should be a person who you have full confidence in. This is a woman who can handle things while you are away, with ease.

3. She does not play games. She does you ‘good’ all of the time. Pouty, passive-aggressive, drama queens need not apply.

4. She works hard and is not afraid of manual labor. This wife does not care if she ‘breaks a nail.’ She can go to the store, buy what she needs and get the job done. (Here she is working with wool, presumably to make clothes, and flax, presumably to grind for flour and bake.)

5. She looks for the best deal. Like a merchant she does not waste money. She is not afraid to search out the best in both quality and price.

6. She wakes up early and takes care of those who are under her authority. Here she makes sure her servants and her family are fed. This is a woman who will have the children’s lunches made and everything they need in their backpacks before the bus gets to the door. Notice that she has servants though. This does not mean that she does everything herself, just that she is conscientious enough to make sure everything gets done.

7. She can buy a field with her own money and manage it herself. Now remember, this is a wife fit for a king, who will have lots of money, so she must be capable of handling this lifestyle. Think about the lifestyle your future wife will live and make sure she is capable of doing so. If you plan to be poor, make sure your wife can handle cutting coupons and living without the ‘luxuries’ many enjoy. What this implies though, is that the ‘projects’ she starts, she takes care of, and her husband is not burdened by them. Instead the things she does bless the family.

8. Her ‘arms’ are strong. She is not a wilting flower who needs help with everything. She is used to doing her fair share of the work, and works hard doing so. Remember, most of the wives God picked for men in scripture were hard workers, usually shepherdesses, before they were married. (Rebekah watered a huge amount of camels, and Ruth worked to feed herself and Naomi.) They were not sitting at home waiting for Prince Charming to come and take care of them. That was Disney, not the Bible.

9. She makes sure the things she does are profitable. Her hobbies do not drain the bank account, but benefit the home.

10. She does not allow her lamp to go out at night. Today this means that she does not forget to do the things she is responsible for. She remembers to turn the curling iron off, makes sure the garbage is taken out and does not miss appointments. She takes care of the little details.

11. Even though this woman is rich, she knows how to do menial tasks and does not mind doing them. Using a spindle was rough, tedious work, but this woman was capable of doing this if necessary. (Though being wealthy she probably did not do so often. There were servants available. But, if the kingdom toppled, and their fortunes changed, she would not abandon her husband and would be able to do these things for her family.)

12. She is generous to the poor and needy. She does not say ‘Ew’ when walking by the homeless, and does not put less fortunate people down.

13. She is prepared. Here her family is clothed when winter comes. She is not running around trying to buy boots and coats when it snows as if she was ‘surprised’ that the seasons changed.

14. She takes care of her home and decorates it well. Remember, she is going to be a queen. Her home needs to look nice. If you are going to live on a farm, she needs to not be so extravagant that it gets in the way of work, wastes money and/or makes the neighbors feel uncomfortable visiting. Be honest about the type of lifestyle she needs to fit into, and make sure that she can live like this.

15. She is the type of woman who causes others to look at her husband with respect. This means that she is not the type of woman who puts her husband down. Avoid girls who ‘male-bash.’ It also means that she behaves in such a way that she is an ‘asset.’ No one is thinking, ‘Man, I’m glad I’m not the one married to her,’ after they meet her. She behaves in such a way that people think you are lucky to have her and respect you for making such a good choice and being a man she would say ‘yes’ to marrying. She is not an attention seeking flirt.

16. She is self-confident. She has strength and dignity. This is a woman men would be afraid of disrespecting just by the way she holds herself. She knows she does ‘good’ and does not need to worry about the little things in life.

17. She is wise, and instructs others. She does not pretend to be ‘stupid,’ and is has knowledge that she can share appropriately (not looking down on people).

18. Her future children and husband will call her ‘blessed.’ She is not the type of person people look down on, but one to be praised. Because she is godly, she will be a blessing, not a burden, to her family.

19. When you meet this woman, you will believe that she is the most wonderful woman in the world. Why? Because she ‘fits’ you. She has the qualities that will make her the best wife you could ever have. Every man has slightly different needs, so every woman has the potential to be this wife. You cannot see anyone being better for you than the woman you have picked.

20. Do not worry about her looks. Beauty fades. Do not be taken in by complements and flattery; they go away. What you want is a godly woman. This is the type of woman you will be able to praise for the rest of your life!

Proverbs 31 ends with a reminder to the son to give this woman the rewards her hard work has earned her and give her credit for what she has done so that even the respected men (the ones who decide cases in the city gates) will praise her. Wives do not work without reward, and husbands who take all of the credit, when she has done much of the work are despicable. (This is a problem in the church where the pastor’s wife is often considered an ‘accessory’ who comes with the pastor and provides free labor.) If you want a ‘godly’ wife then you must be willing to let her have what she has earned and give her the credit she deserves. If not, there are plenty of ungodly ones out there, who will treat you just as poorly in return….

How To React When A Non-Christian Invites You To Sin

Recently a college student asked me, ‘What do I say when a friend asks me if I want to ‘get blazed’ and watch a movie with him?’ This is a great question, and by asking it the student shows that he does not want to hurt this person’s feelings, but he also does not want to ‘get blazed.’ So how does he decline in a Christian manner?

Many Christians go overboard when someone asks them to sin. They go all ‘fire-and-brimstone’ on the person and scare them away. The person they talk to leaves feeling hurt and thinking Christians are a bit mean. Why? Because the person was asking you to join them to be nice, because they liked you, and was blindsided by the amount of emotion you put into your response.

Here is what we forget when we behave like this:

1. 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us that we are not to judge those outside the church; they are expected to sin. Our acting ‘shocked’ that this person would do something ‘sinful’ is unreasonable. While you may hope that they would choose better, even without a relationship with Christ, they have not made Christ the Lord of their life, so it is foolish to expect them to follow His rules.

2. What they have just said, without saying it, is, ‘I am not a Christian.’ The bad behavior (here the drug use) is not their biggest problem. If you keep them from doing drugs tonight you may save them a few brain cells, but have you really changed their life? Introducing them to a loving Savior is therefore more important than condemning them for whatever they are currently doing. It is the life-change that a relationship with Christ brings that will ultimately help them to clean up their lives, not your condemnation.

3. They were trying to be nice and include you in their life. To repay kindness with venom is mean. This does not mean that you go and do it with them, but be kind about it. They were putting themselves out there and offering you their friendship. Keep this in mind when you react.

So how do you answer them? You of course do not want to do drugs, or be caught in a situation where the police would assume you were doing drugs, so you would face the consequences regardless, because no one believes you were the only one not doing it. So be honest, but light. Say, ‘Thanks, but I like my brain cells a little too much.’ Then offer to do something else with the person. Chances are, unless your friend is truly addicted, going for pizza is just fine too.

The friend, by offering to do something a typical Christian would not, has just told you that he is not a Christian. So how do you handle this? (Because this is the most important point.) You love him. You treat him well. You talk to him as you would anyone about your beliefs, and invite him to anything you like to go to, including church. He may not go. That is okay. Your relationship is not based on getting him saved. If this is all you are doing, then it is a scam. You must truly love him, regardless of whether he ever goes to church with you or not.

So what if he insists on doing drugs or other offensive things around you, when he knows that you do not like it? Remember, in any relationship, Christian or non-Christian, you have the right to set boundaries. (So does the other person.) If you have asked him not to do something, and he keeps doing it, you can tell him that you cannot hang out with him if this is how it is going to be. He also has the right to ask you not to talk about Jesus, etc. You can still be friendly and respect this. Your actions, and lifestyle, rather than your words will be your testimony. So check your life and remember, the command is to ‘love your neighbor,’ which does not include showing everyone that you are ‘better’ than they are. Your testimony is more powerfully shown through your compassion, the fact that you are willing to help without complaining, saying you are sorry and caring that you hurt people, telling the truth even when it benefits another, treating other’s as if they have worth even when you don’t agree and standing up for what is right when someone is being mean.

Loving people, even when they are Christian, is tough. People rub people the wrong way at times. Keep this in mind and give everyone the grace you would like to be shown when they think differently than you.

Growing Up Geek….

I read an article the other day on ‘Silicone Valley Syndrome.’ Now typically this is a physical therapy diagnosis associated with spending long hours on the computer, but this article took a different slant. Apparently children of adults who work in silicone valley are producing a higher percentage of slightly ‘odd’ children than is the norm. These children, often of parents who both excel in technical jobs tend to create elaborate fantasy worlds in their minds, they get into computer programming at a young age, they interact better with adults than other ‘age-appropriate’ children etc, etc. The article was about the ‘slight’ autism that is occurring in record numbers in this area. Uh, no. This isn’t autism; this is ‘geek.’ And it happens more often when geeks get together in high numbers and breed with other geeks. These children are not ‘autistic;’ they are your future silicone valley employees!

The problem. The kids are getting picked on in school, and the school has no clue what to do about it, so like every other problem we have no solution for, we blame the victim. Newsflash- geeks have been getting bullied for generations. It is a problem. And it has nothing to do with their ‘inabilities’ and everything to do with their ‘abilities.’ Sure, they have no clue how to avoid the bullies and ‘fit in,’ but do you want them to? They are more comfortable talking to adults, because they have critical thinking skills, understand logical inference and problem-solve. Do you really want them to regress? Geeks think differently, and that is always going to get them in trouble socially.

Do you want to know if are dealing with a geek? (If you are one, you know.) Here a few clues:

1. When you give them anything that tests their critical thinking they spend more time explaining to you why one or more of the questions are invalid than they do finishing the test. Geeks believe everything in life should be ‘fair’ and if it is not than it should be ‘fixed.’ One of my relatives only missed two questions when he took the SAT. Ask him about it, and the first thing he will do is explain to you why one of the questions was wrong. Non-geeks see this as showing off. Geeks want to know what the question was and see if they agree. (I do not know the question. When he started explaining, people tried to shut him up, and for social reasons I did not pursue what I was dying to know. I’ve learned to ‘shut-up’ too.)

2. Geeks come up with their own solutions to the problem. They do not merely repeat what they have been told to do. As adults they will not read child-rearing books, either. (Or if they do, they will tell you when they disagree with what they have read and why.) Why? Because geeks like to figure things out. They do not want to follow the norm. They assume that logic works better than copying what someone else has done. They will hear, ‘Why can’t you just do it the way everyone else does?’ a lot in life. They will not understand why people ask the question, nor will they understand why you would want to do it the way someone else does. They see following someone’s example as doing something ‘blindly’ and it scares them. For a geek, comfort is in understanding what you are doing and why, and not in knowing that everyone else does it that way.

3. They do know how to hold a conversation- with other geeks. Geeks will talk for hours about what they have come up with. It may be a new invention, fantasy game idea or whatever, but it will be something uniquely theirs. Geeks like to talk about what they have invented in their minds. Other people talk about celebrities, the weather, music or sports. A geek can’t fathom why, since these people did not invent these things, or play in the game, nor are they in a position to improve anything. If a geek is to talk about mundane things, they will be contemplating how to fix, or change them. Geeks do not talk about ‘the weather,’ unless it involves cloud seeding, or making it snow when it is 90 degrees out.

4. Geeks do not put their measure of self-worth in what other people think. An award is meaningless to a geek unless he thinks he has truly earned it. A geek trusts his own perception of whether, or not, he did well, so when there is a negative social interaction the geek will examine whether, or not, he thinks the fault is on his side. If he concludes that he did nothing wrong then he will not change his behavior. He does not blame the other person; he just realizes there is nothing he can do about it on his end. This leaves people thinking that the geek is ‘cold,’ and ‘unfeeling.’ This is not true. Geeks love people deeply, they just do not see why others should have a say in the way that they behave, so they do not conform.

5. Geeks are hurt deeply when others bully them, more so than a non-geek. Non-geeks understand that if they change, the bullying may stop. Geeks see everything they do as a logical result of their own thought process, so everything about them is tied to who they are. To make fun of that is to hurt a geek deeply, and because what they wear, say and do is based on a choice they made (and was not a random act) they are unable to easily change it without altering their own identity, or feeling ‘fake.’

6. A geek child asks 20 million questions. Their ‘why’s’ drive a typical parent nuts. These children are thinking and processing what you say. They are not content that things ‘just are that way.’ Later, the will attempt to read the encyclopedia, or some equivalent work. Let them.

7. A geek child will also drive the teacher nuts. When the teacher, or the text-book makes what the geek-child perceives to be a mistake, they feel the need to point it out. They are not trying to prove how smart they are, or be disrespectful. They honestly want to have all of the right information, and assume that you do too. They do not view life as a competition; they see it as an opportunity to know and explore everything.

8. If the geek-child enjoys a topic they will research everything there is to know on the topic. This too can be a challenge for their teachers as they are not likely equipped with this much information on everything they teach. (They once removed the books on the topic I was reading from the elementary school library and told me that those books were misplaced and should really be over at the high school. I cried.)

9. If you introduce a new topic to a geek, expect to hear everything they know on the subject first. They are not telling you this to impress you, they are just catching you up on what they already know so that you can go from there. This is actually a time-saving technique for your benefit. They also assume that you would want any information that they have, that you do not have, and they want whatever information they have to be elaborated on or corrected, so that they have more and better information for the future. Non-geeks see this as the geek being a ‘know-it-all.’ Many adult geeks have learned not to do it, but it is a difficult thing for a true geek to suppress.

10. Geeks frequently interrupt each other. This too is a time saving technique. It tells the other geek that they know where they are going so they do not have to finish their thought, and they are both now free to jump to something new. If they are wrong, the geek who was talking will interrupt and correct. Many geek conversations go so fast that no thought is ever completely spoken. Human speech and social protocol are limiting when a geek’s mind is racing. Two geeks together makes for seemingly unintelligible speech if you are not well versed on the topics they are discussing.

11. Geeks do not stay on topic. They may return to any topic previously introduced at any point, but there will always be rabbit-trails onto other things. This is fun for geeks. Not so much for people who like talking about celebrities and sports.

12. Geeks can’t talk about celebrities and sports because they know that both people already know everything about what has happened. There is no new information or insight here, so why would they spend time telling people things they already know. Geeks rarely gossip for this reason. If it is not new information, and it is beyond their control to change it, then they do not understand why they would consider wasting their time on it.

13. Geeks will also not offer basic hospitality. They assume that if you are hungry, or thirsty, or have other basic needs you have the ability to let them know and/or take care of it yourself. They will also let you know if they do not want to share something. While another person might let your children drink all of the milk, the geek will explain that they need it for breakfast and that there are no stores open at that hour to acquire more. They do not mean to be rude; it is just a fact. Geeks believe that true friends should be honest about their needs so that visiting is not an inconvenience. Society teaches that good hosts cater to their guests. Geeks treat their guests as capable equals who know how a house works. Asking, ‘Would it be possible for me to get a glass of water?’ implies that you do not think the geek has running water and/or cups and makes them pause and look at you funny.

14. Geeks point out problems. They do not do this to be mean, or to make themselves look good. They honestly think you would want to know and would want to fix it. If you explain to them why it is not a problem, they will be fine and not mention it again (unless you did not convince them that it was not actually a problem- then they have two problems to fix- the problem, and your perception of the problem). Geeks believe everyone wants to have their problems solved. They do not understand why this would not be true. If you want to get the geek off your back about something of this nature, give them the authority to fix it.

15. Geeks will explain to you why something is right or wrong. They will not merely quote sources, or say ‘all of these people can’t be wrong.’ A geek trusts logic over popular opinion, and knows that large numbers of people can, and have, been wrong. Do not ever think you will win an argument with a geek by saying so-and-so believes it, or you just have to have faith.

16. Geeks are perfectionists. They do not like not finishing a job, or not being able to figure something out. They love problem-solving. While other people may be relieved that they no longer have to work on the problem any more when you tell them to leave it, the geek will become more frustrated. They want to know the answer and want to get to the conclusion.

17. Geeks often have interesting home plumbing or other appliances. They do not like doing things the way everyone else does them. They know that their needs are different and want the best solution for them. They are often not worried about ‘pretty,’ but care about ‘functional.’ If you explain to them that someone might trip over the cords, they will move them. If you tell them cords in the middle of the room look bad, forget it.

18. Geeks can talk about sex, race, politics, religion and other facets of life wherever and whenever, and in great detail. Why? Because to them these things are just facts.

19. Geeks do not care what you believe, as long as you show there is logic behind it. Geeks have friends with many different belief systems. It is not a problem. The problem comes when you want them to agree with you just because you are friends, or ‘millions of people can’t be wrong.’

20. Male geeks like strong women. They believe everyone should work to their potential. They will help with something because it is literally too heavy for her to carry, but not because they are the man. This is a logical fallacy. They will ask how she is to carry their children if she cannot move a 5-pound bag of trash. It is not that they will not do it for her if she wants, but they will not do it because they believe they are ‘the man’ so they have to.

21. Geeks do love people deeply. Notice that all of the popular ‘geek’ interests seem to revolve around super heroes whose secret identity is picked on or misunderstood. They do not want to be the super-villain, but the hero who is finally appreciated for all that he really wants to do for others, but can’t in his current state. The geek may not be able to convey his love in a way a non-geek would perceive, but it is there. Remember, geeks do not give flowers, they give strange things they came up with themselves… and sometimes the ‘meaningful’ thing they share is just their thoughts about what life would be like on a planet with a helium atmosphere…

Growing up geek is hard. But there are places where geeks congregate. When we went to a college orientation for my son, we heard jokes about t-shirts that said ‘Number One Dodge Ball Target in High School,’ and were told that sports at this college revolved more around robot races than Ultimate Frisbee. (Though somehow rugby, karate and swing dancing are excellent geek activities… Apparently it is not a dislike of sports, just the packaging they come in.)
Because of the abuse throughout childhood by their peers (and even by many adults) many geeks will become reclusive. Most of my friends do not socialize much outside of their immediate family. Why? It is not because they are anti-social. We love getting together. What do we do when we are together? Talk. Geeks are more about the conversation than the activity, though it may not seem so on the job. If there are no other geeks around, most geeks have learned that it is better not to talk at all. This is okay, because they tend to love the problem-solving that goes into their work as well.

Recently I was told that 9 out of 10 people who had known IQ score in the genius range were not doing jobs that reflected their potential. (No, I do not have the reference. I am a geek. Knowing geeks, I agree that this is a logically intuitive truth for many reasons, so I can work with the premise and move on.) Unfortunately this did ring true to me, and it is sad. Due to repeated, over-the-top, worse than teachers can imagine because the only thing bullies are good at is fooling teachers and other authority figures abuse in school most geeks do not want to deal with the typical social idiocy and bureaucracy that goes on in most jobs. Even if they own the company, they often have to deal with what geeks would classify as ‘stupidity.’ Geeks do not see why people cannot leave them alone and let them do their job. If they do their job well, they do not see why it is anyone’s business what they do with their product. Bill Gates decided to bundle a failed product (by failed, I mean not number one in the market- which was I assume his goal) with another product and got dragged before congress to explain why he was being ‘nice.’ He quit. That’s about right. (At the time I told my husband that his future actions would tell whether he had any nefarious motives associated with his business plans. Quitting to work under your wife to give money away in a responsible manner- yeah, that shows where your heart is.) Bill Gates is a good example. He has the ability to make huge amounts of money, and he does. But he values being left alone to do what he feels is right- not what other people tell him to do.

Geeks quit not because they cannot handle the socialization, but because there is a level of misbehavior they cannot withstand. A geek does not mind if the guy who gets all of his work done plays Tetris for the rest of the day, in fact he will play with him, but the guy who does nothing, and thinks he can join in- no way. The fact that a large percentage of the work force spends much of its time trying to get out of the work they are paid to do drives the geek out of his mind. And if a ‘non-producer’ tries to take credit for something they had nothing to do with, the geek may explode. For the geek, it is all about right and wrong. There is no fitting-in and making people feel good. Why? Because a geek derives his self-worth from inside himself. He examines his life and decides whether, or not he is right or wrong. He cannot imagine how someone can know they did nothing, then feel good when everyone congratulates them. For a geek it is not about the kudos, or appearances, but about doing the things that should earn the rewards. Withholding kudos from a geek hurts them because they know they deserve it and you are being unfair, not because they need the applause.

This is my view of geek mountain. Yours may differ. The premise that every geek is the same is fallacious, but I worked with it in order to help the non-geeks understand, and, primarily, so the non-geeks would cease and desist their attempts to label, and presumably treat and medicate the next generation of geeks. We are fine. In fact we are more than fine. Leave us alone. If you want a problem to solve, try dealing more affectively with the bullies instead- before one of the geek kids actually does invent a flame thrower at a much too early age and tries handling that problem on his own!

I hope this helps.

What Your Actions Say About How You Truly View Your Wife (A Quiz)

Okay, this is a quiz for the guys. We talk a lot about loving our spouse sexually, from the altar even lately, but how about on a practical level? (Sex is easy; respect is what’s tough!) Here are a few complaints I keep hearing from women no matter which side of the theological fence they say they reside. I devised a quiz based on the most prominent complaints I am privileged to hear to make this easy. Let’s see how you do. And remember, it’s not about a fair and equitable splitting of the household chores; it’s about love. If you respect what she does for you, show it through your actions!

So, 5= 100%, 4= 75%, 3=50%, 2=25% and 1=closer to never (0%) (For questions that do not apply because you, the husband, do the task, not her, give yourself a 5!)

1. How much of your laundry actually makes it into the hamper?

2. How often do you leave cups and/or dishes around the house instead of walking them to the sink, or better, putting them in the dishwasher? (If you have agreed that each person will clean up after themself, grade yourself on how often you clean yours, or leave it for her.)

3. How often are your socks left on the floor?

4. How often do you put your shoes away?

5. How often do you ‘fix’ things, then leave her the dust and other mess for her to clean up?

6. When a package arrives at the house, how often do you throw all of the packing materials away and put the scissors etc back in their proper place? (Their actual proper place, not piled somewhere to take care of later.)

7. When her friends come over, do you offer to clear the table and do the dishes so she can talk and relax?

8. When she is sick, how much of the cooking, cleaning and child-care do you take over doing?

9. Are spaces that are clearly ‘yours’ (a desk, hobby area etc) that are in plain sight, kept as well organized as the rest of the house, or does she occasionally have to ‘tidy’ your stuff too? (The garage or places where the door is usually shut- and you usually shut it- do not count. If you leave the door open, and it is a mess, then score yourself appropriately.)

10. Do you tell her when you finished the last of something so that she can remember to pick it up at the store? (Or do you leave it as a ‘surprise’ for her to discover when she gets back from shopping with your toddlers, and realizes she really doesn’t have everything she needs…)

11. When you take stuff out, do you put it back where it goes?

12. How long do the chores that are ‘yours’ go undone? (Putting out the garbage, mowing, doing dishes, fixing the sink etc. Don’t make her nag, or live ‘making do’ until you get around to it. Chances are, she doesn’t do that to you.)

Grade yourself:
All 5s= Very Good. Now go ask your wife if she agrees. There may be some things that are very important to her that you don’t do, that I left off the list. Allow this to be a ‘safe’ time for her to let you know what you can do to make her life run more smoothly.
Mainly 4= Still okay. No one’s perfect. Talk to your wife about how important the things you do not do are to her, and work to improve the things she cares about first.
Almost all 3s= Well, you’re ‘average.’ Is that really good enough for you? Was your goal to treat your wife ‘so-so’? Really? Go watch the movie Courageous and try to improve.
Mostly 2s= Well at least you have proved you can do some things occasionally. But we both know that’s really not enough. It’s almost better if you let her think you were a total moron who just could not figure any of this out by himself… At 25% you occasionally got her hopes up, and then failed. Ouch!
Almost all 1s= That’s right, you’re a toddler. Mommy still needs to pick up after you and clean up all of your messes. You will make your children clean their rooms and pick up their toys when they are old enough, but never see how these rules apply to you. Just remember, ‘Mommy’s’ don’t have amorous thoughts about the children they take care of. If you want your wife to treat you like a man, act like one and take care of the little things when you can.

Remember, like it or not, many of the women who come over will judge your wife based on how her house looks. Totally unfair, but true. And being a ‘good, Christian woman’ your wife is not allowed to use ‘that kind of language’ to tell these women off, so she is stuck. And few of these women ‘oh-so-nice’ ladies will be discussing your wife’s ‘short-comings’ at church (In short, ‘Christian appropriate’ comments, of course). While the women are mean, and there is no excuse for them, knowing that they are there and that you have left your wife open to their barbs is also cruel. Remember that.

Further, by leaving messes for your wife to clean up you are forcing her to treat you like a toddler. You expect your three-year-old to start to help cleaning up his toys, but not his father!?!?! This makes no sense, and sends and sets an awful example for your children (Why do you think you have a hard time getting them to clean up? They are just trying to be like Dad!). It also does not leave your woman thinking amorous thoughts about you all day. Think about what would be going through your mind if you were the one cleaning yet another unnecessary mess left by her while she was away. Yeah, it’s not the best…

Women, feel free to add a category in the comments if I missed anything. And men- It’s time for us to see your list! Blog it, and feel free to link to it in your comments to me.

The Difficulties We Faced When Adopting Older Children

Our children were 10, 8 and 6 when we adopted them. People who have no contact with adopted/ foster children frequently feel the need to tell us that they were ‘just babies’ when we got them. No, no they weren’t.
In a typical home children aged 10, 8 and 6 are relatively innocent. They may have learned a curse word on the bus, or seen something on TV that was not the best, but beyond that, they know very little.
My children were not given this protection. From the stories they told and questions they asked they had seen: adults having sex, people threatening their parents with guns in their own home, drug use and life where maggots in the milk carton and beer in the baby’s bottle were part of what they considered ‘normal.’ At least one of my children had been sexually abused (in foster care) and had been thrown from a moving car (while living with his birth mother). Since they were children, they took it in stride and considered it ‘normal.’
In foster care they saw the older children they looked up to drop out of school, run away, become pregnant, steal, do drugs and brag about sex. But they were just 10, 8 and 6. Ages where they could see the behavior, but were not able to understand why it might not be the best way to live. And they loved these people.
Further, they were neglected. We see young children running around with no clothes on at 2 am as ‘awful parenting.’ They see it as ‘freedom.’ Moving into a home where their homework needs to be done, where bedtimes are enforced and good food must be eaten before snacks does not seem like a blessing to children who are used to doing whatever they like.
At one point in their foster care time there was an attempt to reunite them with their grandmother. During this time their mother visited them for the weekend. Just one weekend in the three months they were there. (She was not to see them at all though.) During this weekend she took them to a fair and bought them whatever they wanted. This cemented in their minds that mom was a wonderful women, and they were taken away from her for no good reason. She was certainly not a person who would ground them when they misbehaved, or any of those other ‘mean’ things ‘good’ parents tend to do.
Do you see the problem?
Further, the children identified with their parent’s lifestyle. They did not feel comfortable in an middle to upper middle class situation because that was not ‘who they were.’
The children, due to drugs and alcohol in their systems at birth (and apparently afterwards in their bottles) also had troubles in school. This too led them to feel like they did not belong in our world, since middle class children tend to place at least some importance on achieving in school. All of these problems led them to seek out peers who also struggled in school and who behaved like the children they admired while in foster care. Kids who do their homework never seem like quite as much fun as those who hide behind the convenience store doing whatever they want, and running from the cops seems so much more exciting than boy scouts…
Add to that a loyalty to their birth mom and dad. By conforming to our lifestyle they must admit, on some level, that what their birth parents did was not ‘good.’ This is a very hard thing for a child to do. Everyone wants awesome parents. To be faced with the idea that the people who gave birth to you chose drugs over taking care of their baby is tough. It is easier to believe that it was all a ‘mistake,’ that drugs aren’t really bad, and that some people are just too ‘uptight’ about these things. This too makes life difficult for children who are removed from their homes later in life.
My children also had behavioral issues. In attempts to appease them, or to not have to deal with them in school, they were given grades they did not deserve and privileges or special treatment as bribes to behave. This helped them feel that the ‘rules’ were not for them. They were special. This meant that they were going to have to learn things the hard way in life, because they had seen too many instances when they were treated differently and that was now their expectation. People who enforced the rules were just being ‘mean’ because they knew exceptions could be made, and expected that they would be made for them.
There were also problems ‘attaching’ to a new parent. How do you convince a child that has had several foster homes that you are really going to keep them forever? Add to that a few people who feel the need to explain to them that adoptive parents could never love them like they love their own children and you have attachment issues. (And yes, people do tell these children that their adoptive parents do not really love them. We have had it happen to us more than once. Why? My only though is that it is out of jealousy that these people would never take a child in themselves. We actually had one person ask my daughter if it wouldn’t have been better if she was her mother!?!?)
So, why do I write this? To tell you that it will not always be smooth sailing. Problems will not go away in a short period of time. These are difficult issues, issues that the children may struggle with for a lifetime. Will your intervention help? Yes! But will it be all that is necessary for success? No. Unless the child decides for him or her self that they want something different for their life there will be struggles, and a chance they will repeat their birth-parents mistakes.
And if you are not adopting, then this is still for you. At some point in your life you will encounter someone who has adopted older children. This is to help you understand what they are dealing with and to not say stupid things like:
-‘You’ve had them for long enough, shouldn’t they behave better by now?’
-‘I don’t see how anyone can love an adopted child like it was their own.’
-‘If I was your mother, I would…’
-‘They’re still so innocent at this age, I don’t know why you’re making a big deal over it.’ (Do you want your preteen impregnated? That is why I am making a big deal over it. He may know more about sex, at least aberrant sex, than you do!)
-‘All you need to do is love them.’
Etc, etc.
Just don’t say it. Ever. Gossip travels. Raising children who did not have the best start in life is tough. Don’t add to people’s burdens this way.
Hope this helps.

Home School Survival 101

Now I am not your typical home school mom. I did not yearn to have children, or be a stay-at-home mom. It just happened that way. This being said, since I was out of my ‘comfort zone’ I needed a few modifications that are not typical in your average home in order to keep my sanity. They may help you keep yours as well.

1. Set up your bedroom just like a college dorm. That’s right. Mini-fridge, toaster oven/microwave, radio, TV. Anything you need to create a space that you and your husband can call ‘yours.’ With the children being home 24/7 it is nice to occasionally eat a brownie in peace without someone (okay seven someone’s) asking, ‘Can I have one too?’

2. Date Night. Have a night every week that is just for you and your spouse. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it cannot be time to do the chores. Adult conversation and proof that someone loves you for who you are is necessary to maintain sanity.

3. Volunteer Doing Something You Believe In. You can do this with the kids, but it gives you a sense of being useful and connected with the outside world. It also gets you out of the house, so you don’t focus on how messy and chaotic it has gotten lately.

4. Have Friends. I once told my children that, even if they did not like Gym and Swim, they would be going anyways because I liked the group of mothers who took their children there. While the children played, we talked. Thankfully my kids enjoyed it too. Bible studies are also a great place to meet people and they typically have childcare available.

5. Plan. Nothing kills a home school like lack of planning. Know what you need to get through each day to be ‘done’ by the end of the year. Without planning you will always feel like you have not done enough, and you will likely be behind. No child wants to hear that they did not finish history so they will be doing it over summer break.

6. Set boundaries. Home school should have an end time. If you say they should be done by 3 pm, then they are still responsible for the work after 3, but you are not responsible for nagging and/or helping past this time. No TV, video games etc until the work is done and they will slowly learn to do their work when they are supposed to, without dawdling. If they still have work in the morning, then it is added to the next day’s work. Weekends will be busy for them if they keep this up! You don’t have to be on top of them during this time, just close enough to make sure they didn’t sneak off to do something else. (You can have some mercy if they have a legitimate question, but don’t fall into the trap of answering foolishness every two seconds.)

7. Take Breaks When Needed. If you, as an adult, are tired and need a change, then chances are so do your children. Have them do every other math problem, and only read (not answer the questions) in their assignments and then go on a field trip. Local museums are educational and fun, and many things count as ‘gym.’ This is not for every day, but becomes much more necessary sometime around February for some reason… (sick of winter?)

8. Keep things in Perspective. A home schooling house will not be as clean as a home where the people leave for long periods of the day, nor will you have the time to do everything you might like to do. Your children will also not be ‘perfect’ and may struggle in one or more subjects. Kids struggle in school too. Do not blow things out of proportion and get overwhelmed. Four of my children were in the 90 something percentile for everything except spelling. I am sending one of them to college this year. He has a full scholarship, and that’s right, he can’t spell! One of my adopted children, born with cocaine in his system, who struggles with school can spell anything without thinking about it. (So it’s not my teaching. Spelling can be learned in my house!) Every child has their gifts, and their weak points. Learn to be okay with it.

9. Get help when necessary. Everyone is bad at something. You can have a friend teach science labs, or another tutor math. If you excelled in school, but failed in housework (like me) you can have someone come in and clean. (I did not keep my housekeeper, because it was not worth the criticisms from some of the other mothers and we just messed it up the next day… but I probably should have!) and that leads me to my next point…

10. Edit your friends’ list. People who criticize and put you down are not friends; they are Pharisees. Jesus did not play well with them and neither should you. (I learned this a little late.)

I hope this helps. Our home school is doing well, despite many mishaps and bumps. Hopefully yours is too!

It Is Not Women Who Can’t Have It All, It’s Parents Who Can’t Have It All

In reading some of the latest articles about women in the workplace I realized there is still a double standard that is somewhat being ignored. When the children need something, in many homes, it is the mother who must figure out how to provide. Sure, many fathers do some things- but usually only when they have free time. It is the mothers who are called to sacrifice. (Some Dads are different, and I give them kudos, but they are still not the norm.) For a father, career comes first. If it interferes with his career, then it is not negotiable.

Now someone has to take care of the kids. Scripturally they are to be our first priority, and even if you do not believe in scripture, you probably agree that they need some taking care of. The problem is: Who is going to do the work?
Do both spouses make sacrifices in their careers so that their children succeed, but neither spouse gets as far ahead as they would like? Does a nanny raise them? Does one spouse decide that a high-powered successful career is just not going to be the plan for their life, and stay home? (This is what I did. There are regrets. Don’t believe the moms who say they wouldn’t change it for the world, and you will feel the same if you do. Many are lost when their kids leave, and now need to find where they fit in the world 20 years later, and working under a 20 something manager who has the common sense of a flea is not it.)

So what can we do? Two parents with successful careers often leave little time for anything else. Something must give if the children are to succeed as well.

It probably begins with the first date. If you are a woman, and you want to be more than a ‘mom’ then you need to marry a man who will bend. When his job requires him to be out of town frequently, so there is no one but you home, what will he do? Will he leave you to handle it all without even a discussion, or will there be a serious conversation about how this change affects both of your lives?

Being a stay-at-home mom is a great option for your husband and kids, but can you do it? Some of us need more. If you live in a world with little adult contact and nothing to challenge you (other than how to get the latest object out of the toilet this time), will go you nuts? Add to that mothers’ groups that are organized by the person least fit to be an administrator, when you are equipped to be a CEO, and you have a recipe for disaster. (Killing her is not an option, and if you take over and run the group like a company the other mothers will hate you. This is a place where everyone is ‘nice’ to each other, so there is never any controversy or confrontation and it is wrong of you to think that either one of those things might be ‘healthy.’)

How did I do it? You’re not going to like my answer. It’s not the typical answer, and not for everyone. I adopted three older children with behavioral issues, while my children were 4, 3, 2 and newborn. It kept me busy. I had to keep one from blinding siblings by stabbing them in the eye, or kicking the baby for distance as she crawled. Another was desperately trying to get into the pants of the naïve church girls whose parents kept telling me I was over-reacting and that all of this was ‘innocent’ at his age. (Bull!) And the other was finding ways to steal and cheat in school that landed us a meeting with the principle where they admitted not knowing what to do with him because they have never had a child do these things so young. (I told you this was not the solution for most of you!)

Truth is, I don’t know how to do it. The children I adopted are now doing fairly well in the world, considering and have moved out of the house. (Something many children without their struggles have failed to do at their age… so kudos to them.) My younger children are also doing well. The oldest of them is starting college this fall, and the younger three are easy comparatively, so I am bored. My answer is to blog and write. Not at all what I am most skilled at, but it will do, and hopefully someone will benefit from it.

Your answer? I don’t know. This is something you and your husband will have to have long, serious conversations about. But you must be honest. If you love being at home and never want to ‘work’ a day in your life, kudos to you. But if monotony and housecleaning drive you absolutely out of your mind, then you and your spouse have some things to figure out. Just don’t be naïve. Kids take time, and need you to raise them well. Something has to give. When one spouse dumps it on the other in the final minutes of a catastrophe, that’s when marital strife, resentment and depression begin. You can’t do everything in life. But life is best when the decisions as to what to give up and how to manage things are made early, and together, so that neither person feels like everything is dumped on them.

Remember, ‘No taxation without representation’ was about the frustration of not having a say in your life; not about the money…

Emotional Abuse Vs Repentant Sinner

A girl has sex.

For men, that seems to be the important fact. She had sex, it doesn’t matter how it came to be, so she must ‘repent.’ And that is how it is for a man (and some women who have had the privilege of never knowing abuse).

But, for a woman, the situation is more complicated.

There are wolves out there. They are in the church- oh are they in the church! They pray on the naïve and the girl who was raised to believe that her highest calling was to be the wife of a man. They twist words and play with emotions. They make the girl feel like she can’t say ‘no.’ They push, then back off, then push some more. The girl believes the boy loves her, and desperately wants a life with him. She has been taught that this is her ‘calling.’ He uses this to get her to do things she never wished to, under the guise of lies. He makes her believe that they will be together for life so everything will be ‘okay.’ She is looking for a strong man to ‘lead,’ and ‘lead’ this boy does! He leads her right into his bed, and she thinks it is because she has captured his heart. Then she is crushed. He no longer treats her right. He ‘has her.’ Because she has ‘fallen,’ she will do anything to continue the relationship. She does not want to be a ‘whore,’ but a woman who is appreciated and she does not know how to get back to the ‘status’ she thought she had with him. She is confused, and does more to please him, thinking it is somehow her fault, not realizing that it was lies from the start.

These girls are hurt. They are destroyed by what happened. But when they tell what they did they are condemned. ‘Caring’ people tell them that there is forgiveness in Christ, but what they need is healing. They need someone to tell them that what the boy did was wrong. Someone to explain what happened, and strengthen them so they will not be a victim of this type of manipulation again. Often, this is not what happens. The church tells them to ‘repent’ and treats them like a ‘sinner’ who willfully rebelled and needs to be ashamed of what she has done. But the girl is already ashamed, and hurt, and devastated. It is a time to comfort her, to raise her up, to improve her self-esteem so she can fend off the wolves in the future. But the branding of her as a ‘whore’ (though no one actually calls her this) tears her down and makes her more likely to be the ‘victim’ again. The wolves know who they are looking for. They are looking for the girl who aches for love, and wants so much to be cherished by someone that it hurts. They are looking for a girl who will believe that they love them just because they said so, and who will forgive easily because that is what she was taught. They avoid the girls who know how to set firm boundaries, and realize that actions (like pushing them to do more than they want) show that all the ‘I love you’s’ are lies.

But the church is not producing women who set good boundaries. Typically, women are told that men are ‘visual,’ so they must be modest, and that being a mother is the greatest thing a daughter can become. This gives the girl the impression that she is at fault when the boy ‘cannot help himself because she is so beautiful’ (a common ‘wolf’ line). It also keeps her in the relationship when he says that he loved her, because acquiring the love of a man is her ultimate goal. Men pursue careers; ‘good’ Christian women pursue marriage. Men have paths and plans laid out to achieve their goals. ‘Good girls’ must wait until their man magically arrives. They have no way of making it happen. They too want to achieve their goals, and this desperateness to ‘do something valuable’ makes them vulnerable. So when a seemingly good man, who says he loves them arrives, the girls are willing to do anything to keep him so they can be ‘complete,’ ‘adult,’ ‘fulfilled’ and all of the other promises that go with their idea of what marriage will do for them.

When a boy hurts a girl she must therefore be handled carefully. She needs to know that others believe he did wrong in hurting her. It hurts enough already. She does not need to be told that she did wrong. She is so ashamed and embarrassed that she is not planning on doing it again, but she does not know how to avoid it. She does not know how to recognize the ‘wolf,’ nor does she have the maturity and self-esteem to fend one off. Supportive, caring people may help her learn this. Typically though, she is judged. She feels worse and wants all the more to be loved and validated- told that she has worth and is a special, unique creation that deserves to be loved, and loved deeply. No one does this for her, and the second wolf enters. He will give her the words she needs to hear, but they are lies…

Most women gain maturity, not from being a product of supportive, nurturing environments, but by getting so sick of being hurt by the wolves that they finally learn the game. This is not the best way to grow.

Some women have the privilege of being from a family that supported and nurtured their girls in a way that gave her the ability to see the wolves for what they are. This is rare. Unfortunately they did not give their girls the ability to see that their ‘sister’ did not have the same defenses. They judge and look down on her, when she needs lifting up. They have no compassion, not because they are ‘mean,’ but because they cannot imagine what it is like to not feel secure and loved.

Men too judge. They know the wolves are out there, but do nothing about it. They do not understand why the girls fall for it because they were not raised the same way. They never tied their self-worth to being ‘loved’ by someone. This training was reserved for the girls, when they were taught to be the ‘perfect’ wife, while the boys were encouraged to succeed in the world. The ‘wolves’ are their friends. They are not shunned for what they have done, and are tolerated. The men know they have sex, and assume that the girls are ‘willing.’ They may even realize that their friends lie to women, but do nothing to stop it. Their friends are ‘players,’ and there is an underlying assumption that the girl should be able to see that she is being played. They do not understand how deep the game goes, nor do they understand that almost every time the women separated from the men in their church the speaker was making the girl more likely to believe his lies and be desperate for what he was offering. Love. The ultimate goal. A goal the ends in marriage and the perfect, clean, orderly household that tells a ‘good’ girl she has success.

So what are we, as Christians, to do?

We must shut down the wolves in our midst. It can no longer be ‘okay’ to tell a girl that you love her in order to get her in bed. The line ‘but you know we are going to be married’ must be a warning bell that causes the men to come at this boy with the righteous indignation typically given to the girl who falls for it. The boys can no longer be given a ‘pass.’ The men must realize that by treating these boys as if they are ‘good’ the girls assume that they have the men’s approval and feel free to let their guards down around them. By doing nothing, and worse, putting your arm around the boy and joking with him, you are like Paul holding the coats while Stephen is murdered. You did not do anything to hurt the person, but you stood by and ‘approved’ of someone who would.

We must also love, support and educate our girls so that they do not fall for the wolves. Blunt discussions on the things some men try combined with opportunities to succeed and gain respect outside of marriage are a must.

The irony: I gained my self-esteem and knowledge from a pack of wolves. I was the only consistent girl in a group of non-Christian guys in a martial arts do-jang. They knew what the wolves looked like because they were the wolves, but they loved me enough to talk to me over and over (and over) about what some guys are like. I knew they loved me for who I was, and not for what I could give them. Although they were wolves, I was ‘theirs,’ and they were extremely protective of me. They would run off any guy they didn’t like if he got too close. This taught me it was okay to cause a guy to run. (An important lesson.) When I was alone, I remembered the fierceness they displayed when the wolf approached. It allowed me to literally (and I mean literally) kick a guy out of my dorm room. (Long story, but he did hit the wall as he left. If he had been bigger, calling for help would have been necessary, but I had the confidence to yell, something most girls do not have.) If a pack of wolves can do this for a woman, why can’t a group of great Christian guys?

By the way- for those of you who are going to say that a guy should not have been in my dorm room anyways, this is exactly the type of thinking that keeps girls from getting help. They do not want anyone to know how ‘stupid’ they were, and be humiliated. In my case, the guy was brought by a friend and then the friend ‘went to the bathroom’ and never returned. It was a set-up because he ‘liked’ me. When he started turning off lights and locking the door (no kidding) it was time for him to leave.

Some scenarios a ‘wolf’ preys upon…
(these are all adapted from ‘real life.’)
– A girl loses her mother. Her father is grief stricken. She has no one who truly understands and feels so alone and vulnerable. Enter the wolf.
– Dad is abusive. While some suspect, no one really knows. Mom has twisted scripture to justify why she stays. She teaches her version of ‘forgiveness,’ ‘love’ and ‘submission’ to her daughter. Her daughter isn’t sure Mom is right, but doesn’t know because the church rarely covers this topic, and she loves her mother so. Her father’s love is painful, so when a slick talking, say anything guy enters the picture she is hooked.
– The girl has been abused. No one knows. She is older and cannot sleep through the night because of the nightmares that have begun. She goes to a friend’s house to sleep, knowing the friend will watch over her. She just wants someone to care, but no one old enough to help knows her problems. Enter the wolf.
– The girl has been diagnosed with a disease. It is not fatal, but it is life-altering. She is scared and unsure. She has distanced herself from her parents and they do not know what to do. She feels so alone. Enter the wolf.
– Dad is a strong leader in the family. He has a list of rules for dating his daughter and he firmly adheres to them. No boy has made it through the gauntlet so far, and he is proud of that. His daughter does not know that many have tried. She feels undesirable and is beginning to believe no one will ever want her for a wife. The wolf somehow senses this. Since he is not ‘upright’ he has no problem lying and convincing the father that he is the man dad has been waiting for. The girl is so grateful that she is finally ‘loved’ that she is willing to do anything to make this last…
– The girl is not ‘pretty’ or ‘popular.’ She is a good girl, but longs to have the adventures the other girls appear to be having, not realizing that reality is nothing like the Christian novels she has been reading. The only guy who can sweep her off her feet in the way she desires is a boy who lies. He is not afraid to say, ‘I love you,’ because it means nothing to him. He can text her day and night because he is not a ‘responsible’ person who has a job that would prohibit him from having that much freedom. He doesn’t mind sneaking, so he can see her whenever and wherever she wants. While other boys obey the rules, he is at her window at night being silly, or texting her things he shouldn’t at 2 am. He has no problem buying her things because he is irresponsible with money as well, so he can take her places others don’t, putting it all on a credit card until his parents pay it off in an attempt to ‘help him out.’ He encourages her to sneak and lie, not caring that if she is caught by her family, there will be hell for her to pay.
– Truthfully, any girl who has a low opinion of herself, is naïve or feels alone in the world… (During the teen years, this covers most of them at some time or another.)

The problem: When a ‘wolf’ gets a girl pregnant, the girl thinks she will be alright because he ‘loves’ her and they were going to be married anyways. This is what the ‘wolf’ has led her to believe. The typical ‘wolf’ response however is, ‘I don’t know if I am ready for this,’ ‘We were only dating, I am not sure I want a commitment.’ (The worst I have heard is, ‘We weren’t even dating; I never asked her out, and now I am supposed to marry her?’ What the heck did you think you were doing with her!?!?) The girl is devastated. She is alone and pregnant waiting for him to decide what he wants to do. She did not see this coming. She thought he loved her and that their love would last forever. The only reason they were not getting married was that he did not yet have a job to support her, he needed to finish college, they were still too young etc. She did not see that he just wanted sex, because he told her everything she wanted to hear. If they do marry, the chances he will cheat on her and treat her poorly are high, because that is who he truly is. He was not treating her well because he loved her, but to get what he wanted. Now that he feels ‘forced’ into a relationship (to him, there was no ‘relationship’ before this) he has no motivation to love and care for her as he should.
The other problem with the wolves: They ruin it for the good guys. They use lines that should be reserved for serious intentions so that, by the time the ‘good guy’ gets around to saying them (because he means it) the girl has learned not to believe it. The good guy will not show up on a girl’s doorstep at two in the morning just to give her a kiss just because he was thinking about her because he is responsible and knows he needs his sleep to do his job well. He also respects her parents too much to violate their trust. He does not text every five minutes (or more) because he has other things to do and he takes his responsibilities seriously. He also does not take her to as many extravagant places, or buy her as many things because he is good with money and knows what he can, and cannot afford. Living within his means also means that there are things a ‘good’ guy cannot do, even though he would like to. But, he will work hard to make sure one day he can, and that is a day worth waiting for!

On Adopting Older Children…

Thirteen years ago we adopted a family. Andrew was 10, Lisa was 8 and Pedro was 6. (Okay, I changed their names, but since they’re my kids you can probably figure out who they are if you tried…)

The school system told us that Andrew would be allowed to remain in a ‘regular’ classroom (with Special Ed help) until the end of the sixth grade, then he would have to go to a school for behavioral problems because they would no longer be able to accommodate him. Most children in this school drop out and end up in jail. This was therefore not an option I would allow.

Lisa was counting beans in math, and did not know all of her letter sounds even though she was at the end of the third grade. Her reading teacher believed that she would never read. She too was in a ‘regular’ class with special ed but was to be moved to a classroom for the emotionally handicapped and was to attend school throughout the summer for ‘consistency.’ She had Reactive Attachment Disorder. (Oh the fun. In short: This is when the child tries to destroy everything ‘good’ in her life so she will not have to bond, and it involves getting others to believe she is being abused. I knew Lisa wanted to stay with us only because her lies always fell short of truly believable, and she was good enough at lying to do better.) Lisa, because of her emotional ‘handicap’ was supposed to drop into the ‘mentally retarded’ IQ range as her peers kept moving ahead, and was to live in a group home for the rest of her life.

Pedro. Pedro was too cute for his own good and knew it. He charmed everyone. When he was caught, the school called us in and explained that they did not know how to deal with him since they had never had a child this young do these things. (Oh good, he’s advanced!) Pedro’s way of dealing with the world was to cheat, steal, lie and sneak, and he was an expert.

We moved the children to private school, used Sylvan for Lisa during the summer, and then home schooled. It worked- sort of.

Andrew made it into the military. Now that he is out, he holds down jobs and works hard. This is a success. But in some ways he holds onto his past. He has a baby girl and is trying to ‘decide’ whether, or not, he wants to be a father. Most days he seems to lean towards ‘not.’ Our relationship with him is very strained over this point…

Lisa is now married, raising a huge baby boy, and working as a cleaning person at a hotel. She graduated high school, but, upon receiving her diploma turned to me and said, ‘You made me do this.’ (Yes, I did.) She now reads, and goes through many book series. I think her favorite is still Twilight. Lisa is not all success though. At 17 ½ she ran away. She wanted to go out with a boy. She did not know his name; she was going to meet him out because he ‘did not like parents.’ She did not know where they were going or when she would be back. We said, ‘No.’ (Crazy us.) That ‘boy’ is now her husband. But it did not happen easily. She hopped from place to place and even spent some time homeless. While pregnant she had pictures of herself with a crack pipe on the internet. She says they were ‘just for fun’ and judging from how well her child is doing I believe they were, but it did not make it any easier for me as a worried mother!

Pedro has also graduated. He tried college, and hated it. He is doing well, and is being promoted often in his job at a hotel, but is still deciding where he fits in the world. When dealing with us his default setting is still ‘sneaky.’ He seems to be doing better with the rest of the world. Although he just stormed out of our house to find his own place, (children who are adopted when they are older tend to think every issue that comes up is the end of the relationship), he should do well.

The problems:

Adopted children come with a history. It shapes them. It will not be changed in a month, or a year and parts of it will remain with them for life. On paper, we did everything we could, right down to home schooling them when the schools gave up and their peers were bad influences. This helped, but internalizing our values was never a ‘sure thing.’ The hardest part: Judgmental people who feel that just because you’ve had them for a while they should be ‘perfect’ by now. I just want to shake these people and quote scripture yelling, ‘And how many ‘orphans’ have you taken in?’ We also have a relative who has convinced our oldest that we only adopted him to ‘make ourselves look good.’ Yeah, there are easier ways to do that! But, when problems hit over the ‘father-hood’ issue, Andrew chose to believe it.

Our younger children were also an issue. (There are four of them.) In many ways they benefitted from our adopting. All of the children learned that people are unique, ‘different’ and are a lot less judgmental. Thanks to adoption we have a ‘jock’ living with a bunch of ‘geeks.’ When the ‘jock’ joined the chess club, he noticed the chess-geeks were a bit nervous around him. Being home schooled, and raised in a ‘geek’ household, he did not realize his brand of cute and sporty was supposed to make their lives hell. (A good thing .) Our younger kids are also learning from the older kids’ mistakes. While I wish the older children wouldn’t make them, they now see the disadvantages to running away, pregnancy before marriage and debt. Hopefully it will help them avoid these things themselves. The children do consider themselves ‘full’ siblings, but you see our adopted children not hanging on to their parents as much as they age. In their minds, we are their parents, but we are also just one more stop they made through the foster-care (bouncing around from home to home) environment. I believe they think we love them, but are not really sure thanks to too much time spent in our lovely system that has people called ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ in it, but feels free to move children whenever they wish. (I do believe that the erratic nature of foster care did more to harm my children than their birth-parents’ neglect.)

The hardest part is the other parents. With adopted children people seem to think they have a right to stick their nose in your business, like my kids are somehow ‘community property.’ On top of this, I am a stay-at-home/ home school mom. My children are supposed to be ‘perfect.’ There is no grace. I yell and scream (inside) that even children born into the families they are raised in sometimes stumble as mine have to no avail. Having been very successful in school and career prior to this I especially hate being judged and condemned. Some people think that I should just be able to fix all of the problems ‘now’ if I just ‘do the right thing.’ (I, of course, am not doing whatever ‘right thing’ the judgmental have decided in their head would work.) It makes having female friends painful. I do not want to hear about what I should, or shouldn’t have done. My heart aches for my children, but there is no comfort, just ‘advice,’ cruel, cruel advice. I have been told I needed to do more Bible study (my children claim our house is one continual Bible study so that is not it). I am then told ‘ahh,’ you were too strict; then we were too permissive. We definitely should have taught them more about sex and birth control. (I am sorry, were you in my house? By age 5 my youngest daughter knew everything and was well able to explain it to that nice pastoral couple we hung out with! –Not that this is the best either… The military also has a nice talk called ‘Wrap it before you tap it,’ so my son has no excuses. He decided not to. It happens. It’s dumb, but it happens.) Before I rant too long, let’s suffice to say that all of the ‘second-guessing’ hurts. It does more harm than good, and do you honestly think that parents with advanced degrees did not think of these things? I know their motives may be to help, but there is such an underlying level of ‘if you would have only done this everything would be fine’ judgment that it hurts. I would love to have been the ‘perfect’ parent and done exactly what they needed when they needed it in order to fill all of their ‘needs.’ (Who wouldn’t?) But who had, or is, that kind of parent anyways? Adoptive children come with a past, and that past will shape them as well as the time spent in our home will. The only thing I can say is that overall I think we made things ‘better’ more than anything else.

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