Monday, June 26, 2006

Family as God

If I call attention to the fact that I haven't posted on my blog for two months, then perhaps I shall set a trend, and it'll be three months til I post next. So I won't make reference to that, officially at least.

While busy the last few months, researching and working on a book project about family, I've come across a lot of information related to families that makes me think, in spite of our good intentions to make healthier families, we're practicing that long-held human habit for distortion. In other words, we've made families into gods. Much is sacrificed on the altar of family -- from women's hard-won educational/career backgrounds (left behind in favour of making organic cookies and home schooling) to hobknobbing with those wholly at odds with the notion of family. A lot of stay at home moms have channeled their previous work-related energy into make-work projects with their kids -- and it's been well documented in Judith Warner's book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in an Age of Anxiety. On the other end of the scale, there's the bubble-boy behaviour of some Christian parents to keep their kids from all that's bad in the world. Like meeting a real life gay or lesbian person, which might lead to an understanding about sexuality/homosexuality and might allow them to really get in touch with what it means, concretely, to separate sin from sinner. Or to look at the thrice married pastor of their church and wonder if, perhaps, there's something wrong there too.

We parents tend to fluctuate wildly between Hyper Parenting (or helicopter parenting as some are now calling it) to outright neglect. Mea culpa -- too worn from working all day to actively engage with my kids, I let them cruise the nintendo (my 13-year-old) while my 6 year old plays her imaginary school game, while I do "just one more email." My spectrum (which can be navigated several times a day) ranges from neglect to the lecturing, in your face, kind -- how did you play today, did your teacher say anything about your history project, if you commit yourself to soccer you have to go to every practice, dropping towels on the bathroom floor is the sign of a weak spirit, and then there's my ubiquitous work-first, play-later mantra.

It's like sculpting something from a kit, sort of like paint-by-number art, you poke and prod and chip away until it takes on some sort of shape. I've found, sadly, that the shape ends up a little like the circle I tried cutting out of construction paper when I was in kindergarten. Intent on perfection, I kept cutting round and round until there was nothing left of it.

And so it is with these false gods we set up -- when there's nothing concrete, real, and incarnate within what you're setting up to worship, it ends up on the floor in a flurry of little paper bits. Pity the poor family that's being molded into this kind of stultified and studied perfection -- high marks, professional sports development programs, extra tutoring (Kumon sources say that most kids are taking classes fully two grade levels above what they're in at school), and scheduled play.

I am desperately trying to break out of that rut and have decided that prayer, really and truly, is the only way out.


Belinda said...

All I can think of to say it "Amen to that." Cardinella you have captured the very thing I've observed. So much of parenting is out of balance these days. Guilty parents "making up for" missing things of great value, with things that are of no value.

In spite of that if we get one thing right, putting God first, and family second, then in spite of our far from perfect parenting, by God's grace, our children will be blessed.

Cardinella said...

It's hard not to capitulate to that family values god when there is so much we want to protect our children from.

It's a constant struggle to remember to put God first.

Thanks for your comments,