Many of my faithful readers know that at this time we are in beautiful St. Croix with family to celebrate a fiftieth wedding anniversary and our third child’s baptism. This rite of baptism was profound for me personally this time around, and I thought of several parallels to baptism and parenting to share with you all.
Baptism involves water. Down here in the tropics, water is extremely important. Fresh water is scarce, the ocean is just outside the window, and the power of water is around day in and day out. We think of drinking water, water for the health of the sea creatures and for humans, water for recreation and beauty. Water has the power for cleansing, and also for drowning. Baptism is profound in that we are taking a vow for our children, as parents and as a congregation, that the child themselves will re-affirm at the time of confirmation. It is a direction in the Sea of Life that we start and our children fulfill.
Isn’t parenting like this description in so many ways?
From the cleansing power of water to drown our old selves, where we emerge a new and wondrous creation, we really can take the oppression of our old parenting ways and get rid of them! Every day is a new day. We have the power to become the parent we want to be. It is a long journey, we are still only human, but we can keep striving and we can keep showing our children what life looks like when we try.
The connection between baptism and confimation reminds me of this: there is no way we can be all things to our children. We cannot be perfect parents and we cannot make childhood perfect (as much as we try). We start in our children a good work, we give them the best foundation that we know how to give, but the child has to step up to fulfill their own destiny. The child eventually will take control of themselves, their gifts and talents, and use the positive things they have been given. I can give my child opportunities, I can nurture the gifts that I see my child has, but ultimately what the child does is build on what we start with them as a family.
This summer, I asked you all to consider finding a way to actively and concretely demonstrate your spiritual and religious beliefs to your children. I have also written time and time again as to the value of a Family Mission Statement and a Personal Vision Statement. These things are so important. You cannot start teaching your child if you do not know yourself what is most important to you and how you show this through action in your life.
How do you structure your life around what you profess is most important to you? How do you use your time? You all know I am Master of The Use of Small Chunks of Time (I think you have to be when you have very small children! It is possible to accomplish great things in only ten minutes here and there). How do you show your children your worldview? What is your worldview? Are you anxious and complaining and grumbling or do you greet each day as the gift that it is? How do you demonstrate love and compassion and forgiveness? How do you teach your child out of sheer love how they are going to grow into compassionate adults with something wonderful to offer the world (or do you try to intimidate them to be better?)
Live big and love your children,