...okay, I'll go through with it.
I've been thinking about something a friend of mine said a couple of weeks ago. She's a Christian Homeschooler and lives not far from us. Her oldest two are the same age as Eliz, so we get together about once a week. While talking about school, and what we wanted our kids to learn, she said that she told her girls,
"They should know I would consider myself a failure as a mom if they..."
The specifics aren't important, because what bothers me is that statement. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time living up to my own expectations for myself, so I can't imagine how to deal with my mother putting that kind of burden on me. I just don't understand how saying that to your children is okay. It seems like setting them up for certain failure. I remember reading either in a book or an article, a psychologist assesses a woman that said when her daughter was seconds old, the way the nurse was holding her, the mother thought she was a boy, that the nurse's finger looked like a penis, and she(the mother) screamed in horror. The Psychologist said that it was terrible to already have that much expectation placed on an infant, no person could ever live up to that high standard.
When my friend said it, I was so shocked I just sort of looked at her. It must have shown, because the next thing she said was,
"Don't you agree?" The only thing I could get out was,
"I don't try to plan my children's futures, I don't know what will happen." Which is beyond true. I don't know what God will plan in Eliz & Lex's life, or our lives as a family - there are so many variables I can't even fathom. I'm not against expectations for your children, I'm talking about extremes. It's selfish to make your children responsible for your happiness, for your "success" in life. Giving your children the impression, "You will ruin my life if you don't succeed in exactly the way I tell you too!" must be the most selfish parenting I've ever heard of. I can think of other times I've encountered this, in movies, reading in articles(Tiger Mom) and now, in real life. I can feel the oppressive weight on these poor abused children - and that's what it is - taking their freedom of choice away from them. Freedom of choice is something that not even God, the One that created us, will mess with. Our ability to choose is what constantly gets us burned, and yet, our Loving Father allows us to do it, because He knows it's best to let us find our own way. Which is why I'm so amazed to have heard this statement. I guess it just seemed so wrong that I didn't think I would ever hear it from someone I knew. It seems the worst thing to do - if free will is something that the Almighty God of the universe, the Alpha and Omega, Lord of Heaven's Armies refuses to manipulate, how can we, such finite beings, be so arrogant as to manipulate it in other people? Pushing your desires, dreams, needs and wants onto a child takes away their opportunites to discover what they desire, dream, and need. They aren't you, and so it's unreasonable and cruel to expect them to be exactly whom you want them to be. They may have your DNA, but you only have them because God deemed it so. Children are a gift, not of clay, to be molded into the image you have, but living creatures to love and guide until they are strong enough to go on their own.
I did go back to my friends house another day, and when she said it again, (and yes, she did again ask for my agreement) I politely stated that since I didn't know what the future holds, I would never place expectations on my children as to how they will live their lives. I hadn't articulated my feelings very thoroughly yet, which I think now to be a good thing. I may have gotten a little rude and accusatory if I had worked through them to this point.
Because of all this, Bry-D and I have come to the conclusion that we really want to train our children to seek and follow God in all their decisions. I feel that the only security is in knowing they are pursueing GOd and His will. In all honesty, I'd like the most difficult and painful thing that ever happens to them be that their beloved pet dies, and from that they are able to become a person with deep, strong faith in Jesus. I'm not so sure that's how it will work out, but a Mom can dream, can't she?