25 Mar Message from the Head of School, March 25, 2021
Dear TCS Parents,
What do your children need from you? Don’t answer quite yet. Just pause. Let 30 seconds go by.
Now. What do your children need from you? You might say love, discipline, protection, care, provision, spiritual instruction. And you would not be wrong on any level. These are our responsibilities to our children, along with hundreds of other things including their education, their spiritual upbringing, the teaching of proper hygiene, their nutrition, exposure to beauty and nature, being sure they don’t pick their noses in public, teaching them what “rude” is and how not to be it. You get my point. And I know you do these things well.
Of course, you know I’m going somewhere with this. But actually, I’m going in two directions with this.
First, while we say that these are our most important responsibilities as parents, our actual day-to-day lives seem to be filled with a lot of other activities that do not make the above list. I only know this because I was indeed “that mom.” For example, nowhere on the list does it say that my children need for me to be the mom that looks like she has it all together all the time. Nowhere on the list does it say that my children need for me to throw the coolest birthday parties, serve on three school committees and also be the room mom, or host the hands-down, most-enviable Instagram page. Very little of all this effort (you fill in your own activities) was actually for the children’s benefit. There are certainly dad-versions of these – things dads do in the name of being a parent that really don’t benefit the kids much at all – but, again, I’ll let you fill in your own blanks there.
As we crawl out of COVID and into a time of repair and rebound in our country, we are going to be confronted with the question of how we are going to spend our time now that we know we have a choice. We’ve been extracted from the hamster wheel and lo and behold, we didn’t die. I believe that God is calling parents to reconsider how we spend our time and especially how we spend our children’s time. So, I ask again, what do your children need from you?
Secondly, I think we all agree that our children need spiritual education, direction, and training from us, but it has been my experience that many parents are not altogether sure of what that means. Consequently, we tend to fall back onto a list of dos and don’ts: DO discipline a child this way but DON’T that way; DO talk with him about this but DON’T talk with him about that. There are authors of parenting books that have all but prescribed step-by-step parenting plans meant to work on every child, discipline designed to make every child obey “the first time, every time, with a happy heart.”
While I am not negating the helpfulness of parenting books altogether (heck, I wrote one myself!), I am proposing that any prescriptive parenting methods are only mildly effective in the long-run and can be disastrous if not coupled with a strong parent/child relationship. But more importantly, prescribed “parenting plans” are not what our children need from us. They need, more than anything, for us to be spending quality and quantity time with our own Father, being parented ourselves as we are seeking how to parent our own children. They need for us to pray for wisdom about our parenting, to pay attention to them as individual children, to be present with them, to teach them how to be present with God their Father.
What a privilege it is to parent while we are still being parented. What do our children need from us? They need us to recognize that we, too, are being parented. They need us to seek our ultimate parenting wisdom, not from books, but from the One true Father. They need to see us – hook, line, and sinker – in love with God.
Blessing on you and the ones you love,