By Courtney Dernier
There is a vision to be cast in parenting: a vision of how children should be raised, become self-sufficient, good-for-society people. As a parent, I believe it is my job to create said vision for my own children. I plan to do this in tandem with my husband, but I recognize that not all parents have the luxury of having a parenting partner. We have this amazingly daunting responsibility: a responsibility to help mold awesome creations who, in turn, want to help other creations be awesome.
There is so much awesomeness and so much responsibility in the call of a parent! I feel like I’m taking on this mountain of a task. I immediately want to shrink from the weight of being tasked with the raising of little humans. But, realistically, refusing to deal is not an option, so we parents are left to make decisions that will most effectively bring out the value inherent within our children. And in this journey of finding a way to muster that awesomeness, you are with me. And I am with you. And God is with us. And we all possess a foundation from which we can start.
Modern engineering tells us that the strongest shape in the natural world is the triangle. Therefore, a strong foundation should be built on a triangle. But I am a believer in the idea that parenting is a community effort. So, when partnering with someone in parenting (spouse, friend, family, whomever), we place two triangles adjacent to one another, and the combined force of the individual foundations becomes a quadrilateral.
Regardless of whether or not you affiliate yourself with a denomination, there is value in the established systems of thought such as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (WQ-based on the beliefs of John Wesley). This structure purports that good-for-society, good-for-His-kingdom people are influenced by four primary components:
Scripture: the Bible
Tradition: wisdom from various Saints (very virtuous, holy persons)
Experience: how I process life through the lens God has given me
Reason: my own rational thoughts as to how A leads to B and how my children are subsequently impacted.
I think that we can use the WQ as a larger frame of how to grow our littles. So, how do we provide our kids with this framework and foundation? We teach them to learn how to function within this foundation. Ultimately neither we nor they are restricted to the four sides of Wesley’s quadrilateral. It’s just a base. It’s a stepping stone to help us influence their lives.
Our kids aren’t limited to what we, as parents, think is best for them. We can attempt to guide them; but ultimately, their lives are their own. And God’s own. They must eventually move outside the foundation we have constructed and learn that it’s okay to color outside the box. They can freely maneuver outside the bounds of the foundation and do their own thing. I think that’s the ultimate goal of parenting-getting your child to become their own person.
For a little-too-controlling parent like me, that’s a tough lesson to learn–that I must eventually let go. I must admit, it is calming to know that my responsibility is not solely mine. It is my responsibility, and my partner’s responsibility and the responsibility of those we choose to invite into the lives of our children. And then it’s the responsibility of our children. And then it’s the responsibility of whomever they deem is acceptable to join them in the box.
I think that’s why people say that parenting is messy. There are so many different things influencing our children. Some things are “good.” Some things are “bad.” But all of the things belong for 1 Corinthians tells us that “All is permissible but not all is beneficial.” We must invite other parents into this understanding that all of the things belong, for God is not confined to the box that we create. He is also not confined to a box our children create. He traverses and transcends these boxes.
May our understanding of this knowledge bring with it contentedness and openness. May our understanding of this knowledge also bring a freedom to trust fully in Him as the Creator of All.