Friday, February 24, 2017

Parent Guilt and Adventist Eschatology

I have a policy that I don't read books and articles on parenting.  The reason is that I'm not a fan of guilt.  Okay, maybe the books aren't so bad, but parenting articles online are the textbook examples--once they start making textbooks on this--of guilt click-baiting.  You've seen the headlines, right?

 "Medical Expert/Psychologist/Random Famous Person Dishes on what Parents are Doing Wrong"
"The One Perfect Strategy to Make Your Kids Behave"
"Why You Shouldn't Ever [insert popular parenting instruction we told you to do last week]"
"Why Kids in [insert name of foreign country] don't have Your Kid's Problem/s"
and of course,
"Childhood Nostalgia Article Urging You to Reproduce the 1970/80/90s for Your Kids"

Let's face it, friends--parenting anxiety and guilt are a gold mine for the entrepreneur.  We put so much energy into doing things right, and at the end of the day we're still not convinced we haven't messed it all up.

The average parent gets to lay in bed imagining their kid's expensive therapy in 20 years.  The Christian parent gets visions of hellfire spurring them on to "get it right."  But the Adventist parent is uniquely blessed in our middle-of-the-night visions.

Adventist parents get to enjoy a particularly vivid mental movie, thanks to our detailed eschatology.  We get an imaginary view of our children's angelic faces being rejecting in the Investigative Judgement, of them turning into persecutors during the Time of Trouble, Of them rallying like the goblin hoards outside the Holy City at the Third Coming.  Other parent worries, you've got nothing on us. You all are wimps.

And if you weren't thinking about all of this, being other Adventist parents, there is always a devout grandparent, or church member or friend of the family somewhere worrying about it on your behalf.

This is one reason we can scroll past the arguments on breast-feeding, and delayed kindergarten, and growth mindset.  It's because we have more important things to consider.  And what lies at the center is this question: Have we taught our children about Law, and about Grace?  Do they understand each one so well that they see how valuable the other is?  Have we walked the tightrope? Did we get it right?

We know, in a way the defies explaining, that grace is a meaningless word without a law, and law is a force of destruction without grace. It can't really be articulated.  Like every foundational idea learned in childhood, only experience can teach it. So every day, every conversation, we stand on the tightrope with our children.  And we try not to look down too often.

Because there is no formula to get this question right.  There is no money-back guarantee.  There is just us, struggling parents.  So here's to you, other struggling Adventist parents--may you survive another day.  And then, may you get out of bed tomorrow and do it again.  And again the next day.

And when you go online, do yourself a favor, and only click on the owl videos.


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