Saturday, March 26, 2011

Conformity part 1

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Recently, my younger daughter and I read a book together for her literature class. The book, titled "Stargirl," (apologies to the sentence police; I don't know how to underline words on my blog) tells the story of 2 high school students. One is a well-liked, well-known student who is "pretty much" like everyone else in the school. the other is a young lady who has been homeschooled up til the story takes place, and appears quite eccentric. Gotta watch those homeschoolers, you know. At first the student body is uncertain how to respond to this girl (she dresses like someone from Little House on the Prairie, it seems, and plays the ukulele at lunch, specifically Happy Birthday, along with song, to anyone having a birthday that day. She constantly does random acts of kindness for people all over town and all over the school. At some point she does something to make the students think she is a great asset to the school. One of her acts is to cheer for the other team during a sporting event. This eventually causes the fickle teenage students to turn away from her and shun her completely. The young man has now fallen in love with her, become her boyfriend, and finds himself part of the shunning. He coaxes and coaches her to become "normal." However, this plan backfires. She changes her wardrobe and behavior, yet the students still don't like her and she loses the one friend she has because she has now become a "fake." In the end she goes back to being herself, the boy stops dating her, and after one last party where she ends up stirring things up in a good fun way, she moves out of town never to be seen again.

It's fiction. Yet, in real life I wonder how often our kids, or even we, deal with this issue of conformity. I have to admit, as I read the book and discovered the character has no clue of what is socially acceptable or that people have shunned her for her behavior, I kept wondering if she had a form of Asperger Syndrome. When you live with a child with this mild autism you start thinking even your goldfish has it. Actually, we are pretty sure our goldfish has ADHD and identity issues, but that's another post for another day. Then I thought that it's not just my child with autism who struggles with the issue of fitting in or not fitting in, choosing to be like the others or be her own person, choosing to wear clothes that might seem weird but aren't bad, and other conformity issues in life.

In our family, the issue of conformity in any form has to first & foremost pass the test of the Scripture at the top of this post. Is my choice conforming to the world's view or God's view? Does my choice please God? Will my choice make another person stumble in their walk with God? Since God's Word says that children are to obey their parents while living at home under their authority, our kids' choices need to pass the Mom & Dad test. In our house Mom & Dad don't always have the same views on things, so this is always interesting! LOL!

I find it interesting that in Scripture, apart from being told that we need to obey the authorities, kids are never told they have to obey other adults, especially if it contradicts the parents' choices and more importantly God's choices. The even bigger issue that most kids struggle with is that of conforming to their friends' choices. As homeschoolers, we don't deal with that as much as when I was a student in school, but it does come up. We've always tried to teach the girls that different families, even Christian families, make different decisions. While we may let our kids watch a certain TV show, another family may not let theirs. Likewise, their friends may be allowed to wear certain clothes that our family does not wear. It goes back to the PARENTS having that choice, not the friends, not the parents of the friends, and not some stranger on TV who suggests kids should do something.

This topic of conformity has been dancing in my head since reading that book and I have more I'd like to write about if you are up to reading more. Though I don't expect you to conform to what I say. LOL!

1 comment:

April Carroll said...

It won't surprise you if I say that I don't conform, will it? :) I'm just concerned about what God thinks. Though sometimes, the thought that I could 'fit it' if I just conformed is very tempting!