As a young mother, I hoped and prayed that my children would not “suffer” through life as I had. Having a strong, joyful marriage was important to both my husband and me since we’d both come from marriages that had neither been strong nor joyful.
And we worked hard providing our children with the emotional things we didn’t have growing up–things like honesty, a safe place to share one’s feelings, and especially the freedom to have feelings in the first place.
In our efforts, we purposefully sheltered our children from things that we felt were harmful and would rob them of their childish innocence–things like TV, and violent or sexual movies. We also refrained from committing adultery ourselves, drinking heavily, having porn in the home, you know, the basics. Basics our parents couldn’t seem to pull off, btw.
We invested in their education by homeschooling them ourselves. We spent time everyday in the Bible with them teaching them God’s word, and we spent lots of time volunteering with our Church family in activities we thought would help our children grow strong in the Lord.
But somewhere around the time our oldest hit 11 it began to occur to me: where were our children going to get their wisdom from? Of course, I reassured myself, they’d just listen dutifully to the wise words from their father and me and heed our counsel, right? If we did everything right, our children wouldn’t suffer and make mistakes like we had…they’d be wise. Hmmmm. But I worried, was that going to be good enough? Is second-hand wisdom as good as getting it first-hand?
Also, it occurred to me that pain and suffering had been actually good for me and that it was in those experiences where I’d met the Holy Spirit. By protecting our children from all bad or painful experiences and life lessons were we really preventing them from having their own encounter with the Divine?
While I was worrying about just how much pain or suffering my children were going to need to end up well-rounded and how exactly I was going to fit these “real” life lessons safely, but effectively, into our everyday curriculum, my children grew up.
Apparently, kids these days don’t really want second-hand wisdom. The truth is that kids from no days have ever really wanted second-hand wisdom. I didn’t have to worry about working in pain and suffering training because human children are able to figure out how to create this all by themselves.
My children are well on their way to getting their own wisdom now. My daughter is all grown up and married and my son, who will be 18 in 4 months, wants to pursue a career in theater and music. Both are intent on getting their own wisdom. How wonderful for them. But it is awfully scary for me.
BTW, they don’t know that they are on the journey for wisdom. They just think they are living their little lives. How cute.