“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” ~Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
A superhero was at my church this morning. As I stood singing with the rest of the congregation, I saw Batman walk up the stairs to the balcony and make his way to the pew where his mother was located. Yes, Batman was a young boy completely decked out in muscle-bound costume and mask. My daughter and I shared smiles and the unspoken acknowledgement that someone was parenting well.
I don’t know the circumstances leading to this child’s attire this morning. I don’t know if there was a battle of wills between parent and child over what was appropriate to wear to church. I have no idea if mom embraced the decision, surrendered authority after a struggle, or merely decided that there was no point in engaging in battle on this point. As a parent, I’ve experienced each of those scenarios many times. I’ve let my 3 year old leave the house wearing only a jacket and underwear on a November day, because he refused to put on pants. Of course, I brought a pair of pants along with us, knowing that he would change his mind later. I stopped trying to insist that my oldest child wear pants in the winter many years ago, because he was old enough to make his own decisions and to live with the consequences. I still cannot make him wear pants (he does wear shorts!). When it came to food, I’ve covered all of the parenting bases.
Parenting can be a tough job, and parents often feel as if they make a million mistakes. We tend to think that our children are a reflection of ourselves, and our value will be judged by others based on how our children look and behave. Perhaps there is some truth in that. Our children often do reflect our attitudes and behaviour as parents. As parents, we try to instill our values and morals and heritage into our children. We have hopes and dreams for them, and sometimes we forget that those dreams may not be the same as the ones our children strive after. A wise parent knows how to support and encourage and love their child, even when there is a difference in belief, opinion, or dream. Or the outfit for the day!