Sunday, August 28, 2011

Parenting and Fear

What would it look like to parent our children without fear?

I think about this a lot.  I think about the decisions that I make and the things that I do in raising my daughters, and I must say, there is a lot of room for fear.  There are a lot of schemes and obstacles that lurk everyday, trying to convince me to be afraid.  Trying to motivate me with fear.

You want examples?  Okay.  I am afraid from day one that if I give my baby even one tiny drop of formula, she will be changed and ruined for life.  Nevermind all of the babies that had formula every day of their lives and turned out to be astrophysicists or brain surgeons.  Be afraid.

Want another? If I am not reading to my child every day, if he or she watches any television, if I don't find all of the right educational activities and playgroups and schools, surely my child will be behind.  She will be doomed.  I will ruin any chance that she had in life.  Be afraid.

It sounds absurd, I know.  But I'm telling you, we buy it.  We cash in the family heirlooms, we sell the farm, and we buy it with all that we've got.

The media has discovered this undercurrent of anxiety and fear in today's parents, and I've seen a number of reports on what they're calling "helicopter parenting."  Parents who 'hover'.  Parents who do every little thing for their child because they don't want them to experience any imperfection or trouble or struggle.  But the reality is that these stories tend to focus on the insanity of the parents (mainly, the mothers).  We laugh at them.  We have some fun at their expense--which is, largely, warranted because they do go and pick up their 20 year old son's laundry at college, take it home, iron his underpants, and return it--all the while he's hungover from his 4 am party.  It's sad.

However, I think that this parenting from a perspective of fear is more than just making moms everywhere look ridiculous.  I think it is actually really harmful to our kids.  There is some notion in our society that any form of pain, discomfort, is tragic.  And so we go to all lengths to avoid it.

But what if, rather than pain being tragic, it is redemptive.  What then?

Then our fear-parenting is not necessary (albeit a little silly).  Then it is devastating.

Damning, even.

More thoughts coming soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I am rumbling forward, full steam ahead.  My mind, my will, my heart all moving in the same direction.  That which I'm doing--reading, cleaning, thinking-has my total focus, and it is delightful and enticing in every way possible.  Intoxicating, even.

Then the dear, beautiful girl comes along.

She would like me to read her a book.

"No," I say.  Barely hearing her.  "Busy".  Not even a whole sentence for her.  Fragment merely.

She walks off.  I continue.

Then the wonderful husband, comes home, long day at work.  I am busy.  Emails.  So many things to do, and here, can you hold this one?

Fragments, if they're lucky.  Fragments of me, when who gets my whole?  My computer.  My books.  My life of one.

It's embarrassing, really.  When the heartbreak of it all wears off.

I am one who God has blessed in many ways.  I think well and hard.  I love to dwell in places deep and fascinating.  But I do not come out easily.  I begin to drown.  I must be pulled, and it is always me pulling against myself, fighting and kicking.

But I know that the ones pulling are more important.  I see that.  I believe that.  I really do.

And I wonder.  Is there Help for me in this?  Can the Maker make me over, give me the strength to focus--on what is better?  Can he shift my vision, pull me in the other direction?

Of course.

Because all the while, while I wade deep in the wrong pools, He is the one pulling me out. He is gentle, standing in front of me, saying, see Me.  See Me.  Really, truly, look.  See me.

He is grace.

He can make my fragments whole.

Even when there's kicking and screaming involved.