Let me wade into this most dangerous of waters! An area of such sensitivities that I have resisted writing about this for a long time. But I have opinions - so I'll throw them into the mix!
I have noticed a general feeling of panic among many Christian mothers. The pressure to get this Christian parenting thing worked out NOW, while the children are little, or else face failure. And how does one fail? By having children who are not believers.
I know that we do truly want our children to be trusting in Jesus for themselves. Of course. Please don't hear me wrong. That is my heart's desire for my children. More than anything else.
But we speak about others. 'Older parents'. Even 'minister's families'. Who have (wait for it) ... 'unbelieving children'. I wonder if behind these comments, is a dismissal of those Christian parents. As if they have failed. As if they just did not get it RIGHT. We are encouraged to reflect on what it is that they did WRONG, so we don't repeat their terrible mistakes.
It is the dismissal of our Christian elders, that distresses me greatly when these comments are made. I'm not confident that they did do anything 'wrong'. There doesn't appear to be a formula. They have been (and continue to be) faithful, loving parents. And are not perfect - just like me!
My Dad is an Anglican church minister. I grew up being friends with many ministers and their families. My husband is a minister and we personally know many clergy families with adult children. People I have serious respect for as my Christian elders. And what a mixed bag of responses. Some children follow Jesus. Others don't. And very often there is a different story for siblings within the same family. Same family = same parents = same parenting strategies. How come we so quickly start to point the finger at the parents in these families? When do we start to say, 'Hey, guess what? Those children are adults, who have made their own decisions about their lives'.
And, ultimately, I thought faith was about a relationship with God. Where does he fit into this picture? How does God revealing himself, showing his grace and saving mercy to our children fit in? Just as he showed mercy and grace to me.
Let's remember. There is no magic formula. Ultimately it is in God's hands. One day it might be me, coping with these deep, deep disappointments. And I would like people to be kind, sensitive and generous to me. Not evaluating me, trying to work out what I did wrong.