I grew up as a young child on a dairy farm. When the wind and location are right, the “smells” of a local dairy in the valley bring me back to my childhood. We all know that dairy farms are full of cows and milk. This means they are also full of feed, water, and a natural byproduct we call manure. Collecting and processing manure can be a delicate challenge for dairy farmers. But for me as a kid, it provided a playground. More specifically, my older brother and I would sneak onto the large concrete holding pens after the cows had left. We would ride our BMX bikes with reckless abandon. Riding on the well-lubricated surface made the typical “skids” and “peel-outs” all the more enjoyable.
At the end of our unconventional revelry, we would march our way back to the house covered in cow manure and urine. My mom would see us coming, and quickly grab a high-pressured garden hose and spray us down for several minutes. We would endure a long-winded lecture in our soaking wet clothes. And when that didn’t prevent future funfests in the Cowpen, eventually our bikes were taken away.
What could make 2 kids enjoy something so disgusting and unsanitary? After living on a dairy farm for a while, the abundance of “poo” quickly became normalized. At least for my brother and I, it required too much effort to stay clear of it, and thus we even pursued it. My parents of course were much more civilized and consistently maintained a healthy separation from the filth. Now as an adult, I can’t imagine choosing to lather up in cow excrement, much less enjoy it!
This illustration provides a very clear application to our lives as believers, and our roles as parents. Our children are subjected to a world that is full of filth. It is so easy for this filth to become normalized in their world, and so easy for them to give in to the perverted attraction and even pursue it. Our role as parents is to model, instruct, and provide boundaries consistent with God’s Word. This requires constant and patient attention. Have you ever tried to scrub weeks-old cow manure out of clothes? It can be both challenging and uncomfortable. It is important to actively disciple every day!
We recently did a reset of some boundaries in our own home. Generally, boundaries can be enlarged as children mature, but sometimes the rate of decline of our culture exceeds the rate of maturity of our children. Sometimes a long-winded lecture and a high-powered garden hose can do the trick. Other times, restricting access until maturity is evident is our responsibility. But please know, if you see me wearing muddy boots, be assured it is just dirt.