By Beth Groh
Poor dad. He just had that look…like he would rather be anywhere else but standing at the doorway of a gym filled with tweens.
He came early that night to pick up his middle-school-aged daughter from a community dance at our church. A rather impossible task from where he stood.
Call out her name? Good luck, considering he could feel as well as hear the music.
Look for her? Slim chance, since the only light was coming from exit door signs and disco-ball lights.
So he stood there, awkwardly, on the off chance his daughter looked his way. I tried to help, offering to write his daughter’s name on a slip of paper to give to the DJ for an announcement on the loudspeaker.
He looked horrified at the thought.
“Are you kidding?” he asked. “I came to pick her up, not embarrass her to death.”
Poor man…he failed to consider that, at his daughter’s age, he could just as easily embarrass her by breathing.
“I gave up on that a long time ago,” I told him. As the battle-weary mother of three, I am now largely immune from the sting of being considered an embarrassment. That was especially useful on that particular night when, serving as a chaperone, I was sporting several strands of obnoxious Mardi Gras beads and an over-sized feather mask. “My poor 6th grader son is here. And he, with all his friends, can see me dressed like this!”
I don’t think that helped. He now looked nearly as mortified to stand by me as he was watching in vain for his daughter.
Trying to help him pass the time—and discomfort—of standing there, I offered some of my brochures. I came to the dance armed with some Christian outreach booklets, many of which challenge evolution in light of God’s Word about creation. (Yes, we entertain youth–but we also try to share a biblical worldview.)
“Why don’t you consider coming to hear our speaker from Answers in Genesis next month?” I asked, as I explained how a PhD scientist will be presenting science in a biblical context.
I handed him the flyer…but he stepped back and shook his head.
“Well, that might be interesting, but I don’t think that will go over so well at home with her mother,” he said, as his daughter stepped forward and a look of relief washed over his face. “We’ll pass.” And off they went.
Dad missed an opportunity. A chance to let his own beliefs get challenged. A chance to discuss issues of eternal consequences. A chance to expose his daughter to a different viewpoint about God, science and the world around her.
All for fear of conflict and, perhaps, a twinge of embarrassment. As parents, we want to avoid conflict when possible. We want to shield our children from discomfort around their friends.
But we must be careful not to do so at the expense of our true calling as parents. It’s not about parenting for today, but parenting for eternity.
We must actively seek—and not shy away from—opportunities to instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of our children.
We must be as bold as the Apostle Paul as he proclaimed in the first chapter of Romans (verse 16): “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
Have I missed those same opportunities as that dad in the gym? You bet. The sad truth is that, like him, I probably didn’t even know it.
So let us, as Christian parents, (1) pray for the discernment to recognize and seize those chances to share a biblical worldview with our children and (2) pray for Paul’s boldness to profess our faith without shame…even if that means wearing gaudy feather masks around our tweens!