Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This Got Me Thinking...

I'm going to stray from my usual content of featuring Avery for a couple posts. I've run across some things in the past week that have stuck with me.

Have you read this article yet? If not, go read it first. It popped up on the web last week, and I keep going back to it. As a mom, a stay-at-home mom, my job is centralized around my daughter, on raising her and shepherding her and training her up for the Lord. This will encompass many aspects of her life over the years, socially, emotionally, academically, etc. It's an overwhelming task at times, and we're still within the first 2 years. I don't yet know how we will approach schooling, or friends, or sleepovers, or weekend trips away, or extracurricular activities...the list goes on. She's already displaying independence and trying to enforce her will over mine. It is easy enough to break that will at almost-2. It will become increasingly harder as she grows, and I also want to learn temperance, where she is able to learn and grow and express herself, while keeping her under the command of God and us, her parents, to live respectfully and graciously. Oy - what a task that lies ahead of us!

So - enter this article. I think every parent wants their child to succeed, to do well, to learn and thrive and love it too. But this sounds so extreme to me! And maybe that is why Westerners tend to not do as well, or be as driven. Maybe they have it figured out. At least, in the sense that they churn out the smartest and most skilled. Is it simply perseverance that produces greatness?

What strikes me, though, is the lack of hope. Granted, this isn't a Christian-based article, or a Christian-based approach to parenting. But when I read something like this, absorbing it and pondering it, turning it over and over in my mind, I have to pass it through the filter of what God is calling me to do in response, with my own parenting. While having children that succeed academically or musically would be a blessing, it's not the most important thing. We must remember that "whatever [we] do, work at it with all [our] hearts, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Col. 3:23). It is well and good to work hard, but we must think of our motive. What is driving us? For those in this article, it is simply personal acclaim. May I remember that whatever I do as a parent, and whatever Avery does, if it does not have Love, then it is nothing.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


EMU said...

I skimmed that article last week, thinking surely this mom was exagerating to make her point. Wouldn't you hate to be her daughter? No joy in life. No love simply because you are you. Instead, you are what you produce.

But if you tone down her message, I think we can all relate with wanting our kids to do their best. It's just a matter of how hard you push them. And for what reasons you are pushing/encouraging them.

I think a huge downside to capitalism/our culture is that we often reduce life to "you are what you produce." This is at odds with Christianity, in that our identity is found in Christ and what He has done for us, not in what WE do.

Even with a 1-year-old, I sometimes find myself trying to make Bop "produce." To make her learn her ABCs, to count, know her colors, and forget about just playing and enjoying her. I'm sure as she gets older and she really is expected to "produce" more (pass grades, get into college, get a job), it will be hard to teach her that her identity isn't in those things, but in Christ. But I certainly want her to know that we love her simply because she is who she is. No strings attached.

So much to learn when you're a mama! :)

Kathryn said...

I saw this article and thought it sounded more like child abuse than parenting. How can you possibly raise happy, productive children like that? Surely they can practice and memorize, but if your only motivation is a fear of failure or disappointing others, how can you work towards contentment and peace?

I know i struggle with my own sense of being "good enough" and I only have my own voice in my head telling me I'm not where I should be in life. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be if I had my mothers voice deriding me instead of supporting me when I felt down.

I think raising children who can love and empathize is more important than children who can do the best on a math test.

*also, my security word to type was "famptor" which sounded like some sort of glam-rock dinosaur and made me smile.