Do you remember the old Crosby, Stills & Nash song? Of course not, you're probably not as ancient as I am. Anyway, I've been thinking about parenting these days. In my case, mothering teenagers and peri-menopausal sleepless nights have combined to make me contemplate parents and children, and how we pass on our ideas and values. There's nothing like trying to sleep the night before you send your baby off to college, worrying that you never taught him to eat his vegetables! Can I have a do-over, please?
My husband and I have always wanted to raise our children to think for themselves. Although we both attended Catholic schools, and sent our kids to them as well, we were never entirely comfortable with the sort of "brainwashing" (for want of a better word) that goes along with the education. In my case, it's probably just that I have alot of my cantankerous father in me -- don't try telling me what to do. I have always had a hard time with the idea of being a "militant" Christian, too. Why should I try to force my beliefs on others? I can understand the historical imperatives that made militant Christianity seem like a good idea at the time, but I can't bring myself to tell others how to behave. Actions that spring from reason seem, well, more reasonable to me than those which are compelled by faith. OK, is there anybody left reading by this time? LOL
My point (and there is one) is that propaganda may give you a compliant child, but where does that leave you (and all of us) when they grow up and try to think for themselves? Is anyone out there at all worried about this upcoming presidential election? Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent, please promise that you will take the time to really look at your candidate, and how you have chosen him or her. OK, how's that for trying to make a point without alienating anybody?
Of course, raising a child who occasionally questions authority does have it's ups and downs. In junior high, my son was asked to write a guide for incoming sixth- graders in the school newspaper. The somewhat satirical piece he turned in was rejected for being too irreverent. And that was the end of his budding journalism career. On the other hand, it was a great piece, well written, and I couldn't have been prouder.
My daughter's independent streak has not, thankfully, extended to pissing off teachers, but she does not cavil at speaking her mind to her parents. This occasionally makes for enlivening dinnertime discussions but, again, I'm happy to see her think for herself.
What really thrills me, though, are the small moments when they do something nice without even thinking -- like my daughter hugging an injured teammate at her soccer game last night, or my son wanting to see his ill grandfather on a visit home last weekend. That's when my husband and I look at each other and think, "Well, we must have done something right..."