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Saturday
Jun052010

Why I would not be a popular mother if my daughter was 12 years old

My daughter is going to be 21 years old.  While she still has some growing up to do, she is pretty level-headed.  The more of life she sees, the more her discernment improves.  It's encouraging to see our kids make wise decisions, and I see my daughter trying to do so.  Having a goal, i.e. becoming an English professor, keeps her focused, too.

When our daughter was a wee girl, one of our major concerns was protecting her innocence (we wanted to protect the innocence of our boys, too, but boys and girls struggle with different things, and this post is about girls).  All around us, we saw young girls who behaved as if they were grown women.  By this, I mean participating in things that are beyond their age.  For example, I did not want her to be like one of her school friends at the age of 10, who was allowed to watch the television show "Friends."  Our daughter asked us if she could watch that, and we would not allow her to.  Now, the show probably isn't the best show to recommend to anyone because it exalts fornication and promiscuity, but an adult can sift through that if he chooses to do so, but a child cannot.  I have watched the show, and the episodes that don't revolve around sex can be quite funny, but overall, it isn't a show I would encourage someone to watch.  My daughter now understands why wouldn't let her watch it.

We were also quite concerned about the music she listened to.  We have always had lots of music in the house, but when the kids were little, my husband and I didn't listen to the radio in the house much.  We had it on in the car, but not so much in the house.  We tended to fill the house with kid-style music as well as lots of classical music.  This was partially by design.  We were all too aware of the twisted messages that a lot of secular music gives to young people.  Much of it is nihilistic and the majority of it teaches twisted, ungodly versions of love and romance.  I didn't want my 10 year old being filled with ridiculous notions of romance and dating at such a young age.  I knew it would come eventually, but we wanted to postpone that and allow her to be a child.  When she became a teenager and lost her fascination with children songs, we allowed Christian contemporary music and eventually, she was allowed to listen to the radio.  However, she had to ask permission to listen to the radio, which she did.

Now, some people probably think I was a bit of a dictator with regard to this, but I am so gald that I did it.  I don't care what anyone says;  the kind of music our kids listen to does affect their attitudes.  When she was in her late teens, a lot of the music she listened to became very rebellious and angry-sounding and her attitude became combative.  The seeds of rebellion were already in her heart, but some music just gives voice and articulation to someone who is feeling rebellious already.  When our kids are feeling rebellious, we need to be encouraging them to submit to God, not feed their rebellion.  A lot of music makes rebellion attractive.   I am very glad that we waited to have her head filled with some of the negative aspects of secular music, because she wasn't even ready at the age of 17 years old to deal with the mantras that some of that music provided, never mind at the age of 12 or even younger.

Now she listens to a wide variety of music, and yes, much of the rebellious, angry type has vanished from her playlists.  She still listens to a lot of music that I still think promotes ungodly thoughts about men and relationships, but she has reached a point when she sees the contradictions.

If I had a 12 year old daughter, I'm afraid I would be very unpopular with her because I would do every thing in my power to shelter her from what I see today:  girls as young as 5 or 6 being obsessed with celebrities.  We often wonder why little girls want to dress like older girls?  Take a look at what teen celebrities wear.  If we don't want our child dressing like Miley Cyrus, why let her watch the show and become obsessed with her?  Honestly, the merchandise that is associated with celebrities is ridiculous.  No, I don't want my little girl wearing Hanna Montana pajamas or carrying a Jonas Brothers lunch box.  Call me a wet blanket, but I'd rather my child postpone being nothing but a tarket for advertising.   And they are over-priced anyway.  Why foster obsession with celebrities?  Kids have a tendency to do that, anyway.  They don't need our help.

I know a young mom who has a daughter under the age of eight.  She struggles at times, because this little girl has a friend who has older sisters.  When I look at the two of the little girls together, I see the difference between them.  The one with older sisters dresses a little differently; she wears trendier clothes.  The other little girl does not.  This mother has shared with me that it's hard to keep her daughter interested in things that are for children because her friend is exposed to things that her older sisters are allowed to see.  I keep encouraging her to persist.  There may be moments when we look back and think that we were too protective, but I think I'd rather be in that position than in a position when I look back and see that I allowed too much.

I have a friend who doesn't have a television.  She has two girls under the age of 12.  I can tell when I talk to them and look at them that they are being shaped more by the godly attitude of their parents than they are by what is "popular."  It's nice to be around 11 year old girls who look and sound like 11 year old girls.  I remember my mother telling me, "Don't grow up too fast."  That, of course, turned into one of those phrases that I ended up repeating to my daughter.  It's a good piece of encouragement.

Saturday
Jun052010

Loving the favourites

Here it is a bright sunny Saturday morning, and my household still sleeps, with the exception of me.  I'm taking the time to do some studying before I get on with the day.

I'm listening to Hanneke Cassell's CD For Reasons Unseen.  I wish there some video clips of songs from that recording so I could share them with you.  My favourites on the CD are "The Ides of March" and "The Crane Estate."  If you click here, you can find a place to sample snippets of the songs.  I bought her CD from iTunes.

 Apparently, the song "The Crane Estate" was inspired by an estate in Ipswich, MA.

From what I've read, it is a popular place for weddings, and I can see why:

 

Wednesday
Jun022010

Bird Wars

So, I live about a 90 minute driving distance from Toronto.  Does this mean that I am a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays?  Not really.  I am not a huge baseball fan, but occasionally I'll watch part of a game.  But I don't have any undying allegiance to the Blue Jays just because I happen to live where I do.  And besides, I don't like the actual bird, the Blue Jay.

This neighbourhood is filled with blue jays.  This morning, I saw my cat stalking something in the ferns at the back of the house.  Then, I saw him dart across the lawn.  Next, I saw a huge blue jay perched on the wrought iron fence.  He was making disparaging noises at my cat.  Yesterday, when I was picking some weeds out of my flower bed, there was a big one above my head, perched in the cedar tree, yelling at me as if to say "Get out of my flower bed."  Cheeky brat; I wished I had a spray pump bottle, because I was close enough to really nail him.

The blue jays in this neighbourhood are nasty to all the little pretty birds, like sparrows, chickadees and finches.  I even saw one harassing a little woodpecker in my front yard.  The only good thing about the Blue Jays is that they reign supreme over the crows who continually vie for supremacy.  There was a lot of cackling last night around 7:30, but they made no inroads, and this morning, it's mostly the Jays that I am seeing.

But the worst part is that the blue jays chase the cardinals out of the yard.  I love the sound and sight of cardinals, but the blue jays don't let them stay.   Early in the spring, we see the cardinals, but after a while, the blue jays chase them out.  I was out walking yesterday, and I did hear cardinals singing, but it was not on my street, and I was kind of sad about that. I love to see them.  Occasionally, we will get an oriole or two, and I have hummingbirds already, but I miss the cardinals.

Because of my distaste for blue jays, the bird, I have made it a point on principle not to like the Toronto Blue Jays.  I'm currently in the market for a baseball team to root for.  Perhaps I should turn my attention to the Cardinals?

Wednesday
Jun022010

Put away the trumpets

In Martyn Lloyd-Jones's book Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, he deals with the issue of  fasting (Matthew 6:16-18), and specifically about not announcing to the world that we are fasting in order to be seen by men.  He extends this argumet to other areas:

Any announcing of the fact of what we are doing, or calling attention to it, is something which is utterly reprehensible to Him, as it was in the case of prayer and of almsgiving.  It is exactly the same principle.  You must not sound a trumpet proclaiming the things you are going to do.  You must not stand at the street corners or in a prominent place in the synagogue when you pray.  And in the same way you must not call attention to the fact that you are fasting.

But this is not only a question of fasting.  It seems to me that this is a principle which covers the whole of our Christian life.  It condemns equally the affecting of pious looks, it condemns equally the adoption of pious attitudes.  It is pathetic sometimes to observe the way in which people do this even in the matter of singing hymns - the uplifted face at certain points and the rising on tiptoe.  These things are affected, and it is when they are affected that they become so sad.

Ouch.  Pretty direct statement there.  I wonder what that means for the song leaders who persist on closing their eyes when they are leading the singing.

Tuesday
Jun012010

Marriage and Family in Puritan Thought

This chapter regarding marriage and family in Puritan thought was one that I looked forward to very much from the moment I scanned the table of contents of A Quest for Godliness.  I have a degree in history, and of all the areas of history that I studied in school, social history was my favourite.  Marriage and family are part of social history.  When I took a history that focused on Canadian women specifically, and therefore family and marriage, I really enjoyed it, the feministic bent notwithstanding.  I enjoy very much hearing about families  throughout history.  While this chapter was shorter than I would have wished, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

When people think of Puritans in conjunction with marriage and family, it is often assumed that they had very harsh, utilitarian ideas about marriage and family.  That may have been true for some, but it was certainly not by design.  The Puritan views on marriage and family were in harmony with the Reformers, who reacted to the rather negative view of marriage that was held by the Medieval church.  Thomas Aquinas was reputed to have believed that a female child was the result of an embryo gone wrong;  the only use a woman was to a man was for procreation.  Aquinas believed that women were mentally and physically inferior to men and was not alone in is views.  Chrysostom did not believe that Adam and Eve could have had sexual relations before the Fall.  Augustine had no problem with the process of procreating, but held that the passions  accompanying the marital act were sinful.  Knowing a little bit of Augustine's past, i.e. his own tendency toward passion as a young man, makes this conclusion not so surprising.  The shame he had regarding his own sordid past obviously shaped his thinking in this area.  The Reformers, and the Puritans after them, held a different view of women and marriage.  The Puritans celebrated marriage as a biblical ordinance.  Thomas Goodwin said, "There is no such fountain of comfort on earth as marriage." 

Wholehearted, mutual love between husband and wife was assumed to be the model.  It was not a fleeting, momentary feeling.  The Puritans believed that one must marry someone he or she would be able to love for a lifetime.  Puritans clearly endorsed the teaching that love is a choice, and not just an emotion.  While a feeling such as affection or attraction can motivate the choice to love, the feeling on its own is often not enough to sustain a marriage.  The Puritans would have supported the belief that we must choose to love.  However, they did recognize the necessary attraction that brings couples together such that they choose to place their love with a certain individual.  The Puritan John Rogers said this:

Marriage love is oftime a secret work of God, pitching the heart of one party upon another for no known cause; and therefore when this strong lodestone attracts to each other, no further questions need to be made but such a man and such a woman's match were made in heaven, and God had brought them together.

The picture of love being like the drawing of a lodestone was great, I thought.

The Puritans were also thoroughly practical in the choice of spouses, looking at crucial issues such as character, values, and reputation.  There was a period of espousal, akin to our modern engagement, a publication of banns, the actual wedding, celebration and consummation.  The couples were instructed from Scripture at all stages leading up to the celebration of the marriage.

Society at the time was patriarchial and male leadership in the marriage relationship was the standard, based upon creation, ie. man was created first, the consequences of the Fall, and Paul's comments in I Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5.  There was also a cultural aspect apart from biblical injunctions.  Despite this belief in male leadership, there was the understanding, according to Galatians 5, that men and women were equal before God.  The leadership structure was carried over into the entire family.  It was the father's responsibility to ensure spiritual instruction through public worship, private worship, and in the catechising of the children and all members of the household, including servants.

We are so fortunate to have been left quite a body of literature regarding what the Puritans taught, specifically through their sermons.  The Puritans wrote their sermons down, thus giving us a window into their theological thought.  As regards the family life from the perspective of the wife, there is always an imbalance in the volume of available writings for the simple fact that a wife didn't really have time to write much.  I would like to know more about what the Puritan wives thought and did.  How deep was their theological understanding?  What did they think about God?  How did they transmit this to their children and other people?  I'm sure there is a volume out there somewhere, but of course, that involves purchasing and reading another book!