10 Signs You are an Unfundamentalist Christian Parent

10 Signs You are an Unfundamentalist Christian Parent October 4, 2016


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Ever since I started gathering a community of Unfundamentalist Christian parents, people have asked, what does it mean to be, or aspire to be, an Unfundamentalist Christian parent? The term is a mouthful and the meaning a little fuzzy, so I thought I’d come up with a guide for YOU to determine whether you are trying to parent as an unfundamentalist Christian.

You are an Unfundamentalist Christian parent if you:

  1. Are parenting with a shifting faith – We all know there is a wide range of theological convictions under the big umbrella of the Christian faith, and the various doctrines are worth wrestling with in our own hearts and minds as well as in civil dialogue with our communities. But unfundamentalist parents hold our variant convictions with an open hand, and most of us have had changes of hearts in regards to doctrines we have held. We know that faith is fluid and evolves, and some of the best things that have happened to our own faith is because we have had the courage to change our minds.
  2. Are a Christian parent who often has doubts – Unfundamentalist parenting is to let go of certitude. We have seen the way certainty of absolute truth has caused harm to communities as human doubts are shut down, and genuine questioning is swept under the rug. Because we allow room for doubts, we have moments of weak faith and perhaps even periods of loss of faith.
  3. Reject hierarchical parental authority, especially as a spiritual mandate – Unfundamentalist parents are uncomfortable requiring children to submit to parents under harsh and strict discipline. Something in our gut tells us this isn’t what is best for our children, and when done in the name of God, it is even more suspect. We seek gentle parenting methods, and believe the way of Jesus, one who gives up power, as a better model in parenting.
  4. Don’t try to evangelize your children – When Jesus says welcome the little ones, He says the Kingdom already belongs to them. You are an unfundamentalist Christian parent if you believe our children have just as much to teach us as we have to teach them. If you believe God gave our children such vibrant imaginations to help us think outside of the box. Unfundamentalist Christians don’t think of children as prone to evil and born sinners, but image bearers born into an imperfect world wired for struggle. We believe our children are our equal partners in ushering more peace, love, and justice into the world.
  5. Think there’s no such thing as other people’s children – Children are precious everywhere, regardless of nationality, religion, sexual orientation, race, and culture. It is not okay if in order for our children to thrive, we have to buy them products made from child labor in another part of the world. Our liberation is bound up together. For our children to live a life of wholeness, we must also advocate for children everywhere.
  6. Believe in gender equality – We don’t want our daughters to grow up believing their only purpose is to marry a man and live in submission to him. We don’t want our sons to be exposed to toxic masculinity where they must prove themselves strong and egotistical and never show emotions. We don’t want our girls to be shamed for not looking like the bodies in magazines or our boys to be shamed for their developing sexuality. We want to deconstruct toxic and rigid gender roles, and fight for a world in which our children grow to be men and women who have mutual love and respect in healthy relationships.
  7. Fight against homophobia – We are tired of Christian culture wars against beloved GLBTQ bearers of God’s image. We want to extend love and nothing less to GLBTQ children and youth. We can’t stand to see any more of them rejected by their parents, cast out of their homes, and killed in clubs or on the streets.
  8. Strive for racial equality – Unfundamentalist parents recognize the brokenness of racial tensions and want to learn about how to dismantle systemic racism, starting in our own homes with our own children. We want our children to see representation of different race and ethnicities in children’s lit and cultivate empathy in the experiences of those who have different skin color.
  9. Believe in connection over boundary marking – We want to build a larger table, not a higher fence. We don’t want our children to grow up afraid of those who have different religions, beliefs, and convictions, but to connect and partner with them to do good in the world. Unfundamentalist parenting is to not fear those who are different but to find common ground and even learn from those beyond our own worldview.
  10. Desire fresh imagination in old religious rituals – Despite woundedness for some of us from the religiosity of our past, we still find beauty in rituals and desire to cultivate spirituality in our children. However, we want to discard toxicity so our children have less to unlearn. We want to explore imaginative ways of tapping into our connection with God through Scripture, prayer, community, and exercise Christian charity and service to our neighbors.

How many of these did you identify with?

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  • Frank

    A couple sound like just bad parenting.

  • Robert Albro

    Interesting 10 point guide. I’ve pretty much adhered to after my 17 year old son (3 sons and a daughter) was killed in a car accident almost 5 years ago. We were strong main liners until his death, now we are pretty unfundamentalist parents when it comes to faith and religion. I would only modify #3, “Reject hierarchical parental authority” to “Respecting hierarchical parental experience, especially as a spiritual guide”. When my son died my theology boiled down to this simple statement; We are born into this world with a relationship with our parents, and when we die all we take with us is the relationships we made while we were alive. (and my Calvinist roots say that is what I will be judged by, the relationships I made while I was alive)

    • Oh my goodness, I am so sorry for your loss. 🙁

    • Those events rock your world. When my granddaughter and her fiancé were murdered during a hiking trip through Canada my whole faith system crashed. When, 5 years later, I asked God why he left me and where He had been, He told me He had never left me and had been awaiting my return. Now that granddaughter’s mother is dying of Hepatitis C and the boat is rocking again, but this time I know how to stay secure. Please ask God for the answers you need. If He doesn’t answer, well, you haven’t lost anything have you? Try it. It can’t hurt!

  • Brandon Roberts

    i agree with some of these of course gender equality and racial equality are good things to teach your kids.

  • Michael Corey

    If this is the litmus test, I am definitely not an “unfundamentalist parent”.

    > 5. Think there’s no such thing as other people’s children

    I encourage you to think of my children as “other people’s children”. Otherwise you might be tempted to influence them with some of these dangerous ideas, and that would bring us into very real conflict.

    • BT

      I think you may have misread his intent. I think the idea he was getting at was that you can’t just value your own kids to the detriment of others.

      It makes sense to me in that once I became a parent, my concern for kids of all parents grew exponentially.

  • That scripture you are partially quoting is Proverbs 22:6. It says, “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” To evangelize a child means to share the gospel or the good news with your child. (From the Greek word Evangelion.) There is nothing more important you can do than evangelize your children. It will provide them with a solid basis for making small everyday decisions as well as the large ones. I discovered that Dr. Seuss and The Bible were good books to study with children. If you do your job you will not have to worry about what is posted on a school wall or what their friends are trying to teach them. Sure, you will use the spirit of a sound mind when deciding which books of The Bible are relevant to their age group. Parents can easily make these decisions for themselves and teach their children to pray for guidance by doing it themselves when they are fixing dinner and “evangelizing” over the Pasta. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement; just something that comes very naturally to a Christian parent. .

  • BT

    Most of these resonate with me, though the rejection of heirarchy is somewhat problematic. I don’t rely on “because I said so” very often, but it can have a place. Its not my primary tool, but it’s in the toolbox.

  • Liliana Stahlberg

    Cindy, you are amazing! I admire you and what you write is true! Blessings on your ministry in the world!

  • I would add that you don’t call it “evilution” and you aren’t afraid of science or see science as a “threat” to faith