Raising exceptional children in today’s culture is a monumental challenge, to put it lightly.
It’s also a painful experience knowing that your children, whom you love more than anything in this world, will be seen as “different” and outcasted by some peers whose parents are raising them based on worldly values.
It’s easy to hold the line when your kids are young. My sons are 3 and 5. There is little pushback when dad gives a command. Peer pressure right now consists of doing stunts on the playground.
But what about when they are 13 and all of their friends have a cellphone? What about the stigma of not being perpetually online via social media?
“Dad, all of my friends are on (insert latest social media app) except for me!” I can already hear it.
Fellow High Value Dad Nate Norman, a speaker and performance coach, recently experienced this with his own daughter. With his permission, I’d like to bring you his personal story:
"I watched my daughter’s eyes fill with tears.
She wanted to have some good friends so bad, and I wanted it for her too.
Several times she had made some good connections, but inevitably the friendships ended sooner than she wanted.
This last time when her tears came, I asked what happened... She said every time she tries to make friends they start gossiping, or cussing, or asking why she doesn’t have a phone or asking her why she doesn’t have a boyfriend (she’s only 12 years old).
I told her that she didn’t need those things to have good friends. But she lost it more as she explained that they make fun of her for not having or doing those things.
My heart broke for her. I see the value of limiting what a child is exposed to, but it’s hard when other kids devalue someone for not being like them.
I tried to explain that one day she would see that real friends don’t shame you for not participating in foolishness and that people shouldn’t make you feel bad for not gossiping or not cussing.
I prayed for her heart and prayed that she would find true friendships that didn’t belittle her for being different.
I believe in homeschooling. I believe in holding off on a phone or boys. I believe in teaching them not to cuss or use language. But it’s hard to see the rejection in live time for someone you love.
We have a high standard for our children, we believe that character and integrity are worth more than having trashy friends.
This is the cost of difference, this is the impact of not being of this world. We fly a flag that is not normal in this world, I exist in it, but am not of it.
We still have a mission to spread light even in the face of opposition."
There are no shortcuts here. Anything worth doing is hard. Parenting is no exception. It will be hard. It should be hard. So be ready.
How can we prepare ourselves for these battles? Put your family mission statement in stone TODAY.
Your family mission statement, or creed, should be the values that are non-negotiable, ones that you are willing to stand behind when the going gets tough.
Here’s a look at the mission statement that hangs on our fridge:
You need to have your guiding principles set BEFORE you encounter some of fatherhood’s toughest seasons. This is your foundation. Make sure it’s solid.
God bless every one of you,
Founder, High Value Dad