Published March 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take
‘In Your Face’ Faith
If you would ask my kids about my parenting style, the phrase “in your face” would probably surface. I’m the type of parent who avoids sweeping anything under the rug. If my child appears to be upset, I’m going to drag it out of him, no matter how much he resists. If my daughter is cranky and snippy, I will harp on her until we get to the root of the problem.
Even though children and teens need their space and privacy to work out issues, sweeping problems under the rug does not help. I’m ‘in their face’ until they talk. This doesn’t mean I do the talking — it means my children do the talking. And, one of the most important things I can do as a parent is listen.
In your face parenting isn’t always easy. My children resist my questions and beg me to just “let it be.” So, instead of following them from one room of the house to the next, I bring up most of our serious discussions in the car. It is a safe zone and a place they cannot escape from talking through their problems. Whether we discuss peer pressure, academic problems, emotional pain or family drama, my children are much more likely to talk and work through difficult topics in the car because they don’t have to face me, even though they are facing their woes.
The car is also where I bring up the topic of faith quite regularly. I worry that as my teenagers get more and more involved in social activities, sports and academic clubs, they will put their faith on hold, not making time for weekly church services and youth group events. I worry that they will lose sight of the importance of prayer, lose the connection with their church family and downplay the presence of God in their lives.
I bring up the topic of faith in various ways. If they are jamming along to a song that is less-than-holy, my in your face parenting takes over and tackles and analyzes the meaning of the song. My daughter rolls her eyes, my son lets out a big sigh, but I continue talking and asking questions.
Faith is something that needs to be ‘in your face.’ It needs to be the focus of your daily decisions, on the tip of your tongue when you are tempted to lash out or criticize and on your mind when you wake up in the morning and close your eyes at night. To live a faith-filled life, amid the temptations and the pressures of society is a tall task. It means you have to choose to be brave, courageous and vocal. It also means that you have to accept the fact that you may fail at times and that your faith may falter when you are challenged. As long as your faith is always ‘in your face,’ whether while parenting, working or socializing, you have a prominent road map to get back on track.
My ‘in your face’ approach to parenting is not always a success. My children get irritated and even angry at times when I’m relentless. I do need to learn to step back a bit as they develop into teenagers, but I will never keep faith out of my kids’ faces. It has graced us thus far and has never let me down.
— Shannon Philpott