Years ago, we read this book with our small group when James' was the Family Pastor of our church in Kansas and the realities of what was written on the pages hadn't crossed the doorstep of our little family because our (2) kiddos were just babes. Sure we worked with teens, we had both taught in the public schools and we ministered to parents and knew that the culture described in this book was for real, but most of our parenting experience was theoretical at best.
Fast forward to 2013, when we have a 10 year old tween girl, 8 year old son, and two preschoolers...
We are quickly approaching some pivotal decisions in our family.
One of which is the sleep-over decision. Will our kids sleep over at other's homes or have sleep-overs here if it isn't a family vacay type of situation where we are in the same house?
After reading Re-Create, we decided to do the same thing Ron Luce and his wife did with their kiddos and have "covenant families" that we allow our kids to sleep over with. We will not "choose" all of our kids' friends, but we will choose how much unsupervised time they have with them.
That's FO SHO.
If we know the family so well that they are like family, and we share the same morals, values and safe guards...if we are very good friends with the parents and we know the character of the kids...if we have been in the home enough to know that it is safe and rules are enforced...AND that God is the center of their family, our kids can stay the night once they have reached a certain age.
If they are invited to someone's house that isn't a "covenant family," we will use our discretion to decide how much unsupervised (without us in the house) time they are allowed to spend there.
Period. Yes, they will have all kinds of kids over and even spend time at all kinds of kids' houses, but not overnight unless we are "covenant families."
This may seem RADICAL and OVERPROTECTIVE, HARSH or JUDGEMENTAL...
It probably is compared to the world's standards. We won't deny that.
But, if you have worked with children, teens or families in ministry or counseling situations, and have heard even a whisper of what we have heard that can happen at sleep-overs...at the hand of a friend, a friend's sibling or even a seemingly trustworthy parent...or what has been seen on a TV or computer screen that cannot be erased from a child's memory and forever changes their lives, you will know that what we are choosing to do is our duty and undeniable responsibility as parents.
Here is the deal...In theory, it makes perfect sense. In practice, it's hard.
This Saturday, Jesse is invited to spend the night with someone who thankfully is part of one of our covenant families. He's 8. Shelby is 10 and has not had a sleep-over without her parents there.
We will say, "Yes," and Shelby will feel like it's unfair.
When talking to your kids or your friends, decisions like this are uncomfortable, messy, and downright painful sometimes. But if we set boundaries now, and identify those covenant families, they will just know who they can and cannot spend the night with...not that we don't like or approve of other families, just that they have to BE "family," in order for our kids to stay there.
It is going to be worth it. I would rather regret a disagreement I had with my daughter than regret an unspeakable thing that could happen to any of my children. Those things DO happen...all too often...& I promise I am not being dramatic or exaggerating. Parents need to stop living in denial or relying on their kids to "make the right choices" before they are old enough or brave enough to stand up for themselves when we aren't with them.
Hopefully our courage to stand firm will help fortify other parents who need to set firm boundaries to protect their kids. Either that, or they will make fun of us. I'm ok with that.