Who’s raising your kids?
Yes, I know there is all kinds of dialog about how engaged parents should be in child-rearing, how much or how little we should rely on babysitters and preschool, what optimal times and hours are when it comes to raising our kids.
But whether we’re home full-time or feeling the press of being on the road too much with work, there’s a question to raising children that we’ve got to ask ourselves, regardless of what the calendar and clock look like.
Who’s really raising them?
In this way.
How you were raised, how I was raised, it all speaks into and influences our parenting. If we had great parents, we may try to recreate the experience in our own parenting. If we had absent or abusive parents, we may try to parent our own kids in whatever is the 180 degree turn from that experience. Whether grand or grinding, supportive or silent, permissive or prohibitive, kind or calculating, extraordinary or unexceptional, however we perceive the raising we received, it speaks.
It’s a specter in our own parenting styles, when we copy it or when we zigzag away from it.
And, unawares, we can have ghost parenting going on, an invisible hand guiding and steering, peering over our shoulder, whispering in our ear.
Did you feel like you were a bit ignored in the shine of your siblings? Then you may lay on a thick cover of attention on your child who’s a bit more reticent. Did you feel restricted by your parents’ excessive adherence to social niceties? Then you may enthusiastically endorse your kid’s extreme hairstyle and avant-garde sense of fashion. Did you adore the way your parents handled your fragile esteem in your junior high school years? Then you may be implementing the same strategies.
Which is all great. But you’ve got to know where it comes from.
Am I parenting from a place of what’s best for my kid, this child, this unique person with their own set of dreams and gifts and challenges and perspective? Or am I still reacting to hurts from my own upbringing? Am I trying to copy what worked well for me in childhood, but without thinking through how my child might be different?
It’s what I call ghost parenting, when someone else is writing the script to the story I’m leading. When the rules and expectations and ideas from those generational heritages show up around corners and whisper from the shadows.
And it makes me ask, when I respond to my kids out of instinct or insurgency, who’s really doing the raising here? Is it an echo that is still speaking?
And is that echo valid?
There is incredible wisdom in the parenting that has gone on before us. There is also, for many, a heavy bag of burden that drags behind childhood memories. And to make sure we’re only allowing voices to speak into today that are specific and aware of our child, our family culture, the call on each of our families, we’ve got to identify and know the who and the what that can come rolling from our histories.
I want to glean the best from the inheritance of parenting I received, an amalgam of my parents and theirs and theirs and theirs. And I want to evaluate what applies to the kids the Lord has entrusted to me, not based on what used to work or not work. But most importantly, at the end of the day, I want to raise my kids. I don’t want to have a ghost writer on this parenting project.
I want to actively write the story, to include fully the dialog of my kids, their characters, their stories.
Who’s writing your story with your kids? Honor what’s come before, heal from what’s come before, but don’t be afraid to write a completely new prose.