My wife accuses me of being a creature of habit. I prefer to think of myself as "structured," you know. But I do exhibit some behaviors that are a bit compulsive. I don't think I'm dangerous, though. For example, it does not matter what time I get in from the airport or the interstate after a trip, there is one thing I will do before I got to bed. I will unpack. Sure, it's 2:00 A.M., but I will get everything back to its proper place. An unpacked suitcase will pursue me all night long if I don't. Now sometimes my sweet wife will try to inject a little common sense by simply asking, "Why not unpack tomorrow?" Of course, she doesn't know that's totally illogical. I'm not home until I'm unpacked. Neither are your children.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "The Need To Unpack."
Now, I'll unpack that idea in just a moment. But first, our word for today from the Word of God. It's from Deuteronomy 11:18. It might be entitled, "How to Raise Righteous Kids in a Pagan Culture." That was the challenge these Jewish parents faced as they raised the first generation born in the Land of Canaan, and it's the challenge every believing Mom and Dad faces in our world today.
Here's what God says: "Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children." Now how do you do that? In a classroom setting? Do you do it in a religious meeting? Well, He says to do it this way, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land...as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth."
Wow! Now, notice the best places to communicate important values to your children - relaxed times, while you're traveling somewhere, at the end of the day, at the beginning of the day; when they're arriving home, when they're leaving. And how often? God talks about "your days and the days of your children."
Now, in many ways, the key to raising whole children in a broken world is what I like to call the daily debriefing - emptying out the mental, spiritual, and emotional suitcase that your son or daughter has filled that day. Each day a child comes home with new experiences, with happy conversations, with unsettling conversations, with new episodes in the ongoing soap opera of their friends' lives, temptations, teachers' comments, confusing emotions, new responsibilities, hurtful comments. Your son or daughter has, as I do when I return from a trip, the need to unpack!
Now this doesn't usually happen through formal interrogation. It happens in relaxed settings in a hundred different ways. The key is the climate you set - providing an atmosphere where honest feelings are shared; where people aren't condemned for bad feelings or experiences. Our kids need to disinfect themselves from the day's contamination - and you need to let them.
It's in these daily debriefings that we can, without preaching, help our kids integrate their beliefs with the daily barrage they encounter. Our kids live in days, so they need to talk about their day, while it's still fresh in their minds, before it gets buried inside. You can't miss too many of those days if you want a stable child in a stormy world.
Remember, when you see your son or daughter come home from their daily "trip," they have a suitcase full. Take time to help them unpack!