"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

31 January 2011

A Response to David Mills on Anxious Parenting

David's (very worthy) article is found here.

It wasn't my kid on the trampoline with David's. It could have been. My eldest and his youngest are the best of friends. But I do admit that I hesitated half a second the first time I dropped my firstborn off at their house for a playdate and saw The Trampoline. *ominous music plays* Half a second, though, and no more.

I come from a long line of worriers and what-iffers. My dad slept with the window open, just a crack. He liked the fresh air, he said. This is true, but he also liked to be able to hear if anyone was coming up our driveway. My mother insisted I call her every Sunday in college, just to make sure I was still alive. My grandmother fretted that my cousin wouldn't live to see fourteen, especially if he didn't wear an undershirt even in summer. (He's thirty-five now.) We worry, because we care. Mostly though, we worry because we're good at it.

I also come from a culture of worriers. Statistics fly, boogie men around every corner. Children are precious, too precious. They become fragile, and a trip to the ER is quietly the mark of a bad parent.

But I also have three boys. Watching them and their peers grow up, I've learned that the phrase "boys will be boys" is not necessarily true. Its pretty easy to tame the boyishness out of them when they're young. Its just that once you do, you end up with neutered males and the boyishness is really hard to put back once you realize your mistake.

I had to teach the first to get dirty. That's a funny thought now, but he was never a very adventurous child by nature. He had to learn to be a boy, and I wasn't a very good teacher. I remember teaching him to dig in the garden; he hated it. But as he's grown, he has learned to shoot a BB gun, thanks to 4H. And he's learned to risk getting hurt (thanks to Tae Kwon Do). And I've learned to bite my tongue when I see imagined dangers on the horizon.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks? That's the question doctors ask before medicating a patient, sometimes even with dangerous courses of drugs. Do the benefits of my allowing my child on the Trampoline of Doom (he'll have fun, get some exercise, maybe venture out a little further) outweigh the risks (he might fall off and get winded... we may end up with stitches, but its unlikely, or a cast and a lesson learned)? Most of the time, they do... so I worry, because its in my genetic code. But I do so biting my tongue, while my child bounces on the trampoline.

As God has blessed me with two additional boys, one of whom is into electricity and power tools, the other likes to climb and take martial arts lessons (at a young age!) I've learned that I have to keep my worries to myself and let them get themselves into minor scrapes. Its good for them. They can't come running to mommy when they're thirty-five and have kids of their own. And its been good for me, too, as mothers aren't really allowed to cling to their sons.

I admit that I've not been able to cross the line into a totally relaxed parenting style. But at least I've learned (mostly) when to sit down and shut up. How will they learn how to be men, if we never let them live?

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