Before I had children I knew everything about parenting. My husband and I would observe families with children and make lists of behaviors our children would never exhibit. We thought parenting was scientific. We believed. If we train them in the way they should behave then they will not depart from it. I didn’t recognize how critical and judgmental I was. It was just plain stupid of me to think that I could actually control how my children grow up. Imagine making a clay pot for the first time, or knitting
a sweater. Before you start you have this vision. You have the pattern and the materials. Follow the directions and you get what you planned. Right? No. A thousand unexpected influences come in to play and that project takes on a life of its own. Children are like that, but they really do have a life of their own. They are humans; not the end result of a formula. You know what really makes me curl my toes is when mediocre parents have great kids and they take all the credit for it! Then they tell everyone else “Just do like us and your kids will be just like ours.” Nope. It doesn’t work like that. You can shape your metaphorical craft project, and you may love the end result, but it will not be exactly what you envisioned. And if the craft or the kid turns out just the way you planned, well you are probably more lucky than talented.
I suppose it was important for Obadiah and I to talk out our parenting strategies before we had children, but we had harsh criticisms for the parents we observed. Though we didn’t say anything to them, they surely knew by our haughty stares that we were talking about them. Years later I felt haughty stares and murmured criticism from others as I struggled publically with my children. Well intentioned advice was tossed at me by strangers in passing. I have to wonder if God has caused me to be a victim of the same nasty behavior that I once perpetuated. Does crime and punishment work that way in God’s Kingdom? Or is this how my conscience works? I really don’t appreciate know-it-all attitudes about raising children so I try not to have one, at least not since my two little reality checks came along. Now I look for opportunities to help others. I mean babysitting or carrying stuff, not giving unsolicited advice. (After all that’s why I blog.) When I cannot help, I give people their privacy so they can struggle with dignity. Every now and then I get a little catty. Then Obadiah reminds me about the complexity of the lives of others and I have to acknowledge that life is not a simple science that can be planned out with If… Then… statements.