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parenting: it’s not about results, it’s about love

There’s a myth perpetrated by the parenting books that I kind of hate. And it’s this. We do x to get y. We love to teach our kids to love. We pass on our values so that they will follow in them. Everything has a reason, a desired result that will make it all worth it, will lend credence and importance and value to what I do as a mom.

The Christian parenting books add their own little sacred spin to this. They assure me that if I do 1 2 then 3 my children will not only be so perfect they will make the baby Jesus insecure but they will also make everyone around me fall down in awe. Like literally, I’ll be wheeling my cart through the grocery store and people will bow down and be like “How DO you do it? It must be God!!!” And then they will pull out a tent and a pulpit and we’ll have ourselves a good old fashioned tent revival then and there.

That’s a mild exaggeration but one thing is clear from them: “good” results are expected. With the implication that if you, as a parent, do not get these “good” results you obviously did something wrong. (And you should probably buy their follow-up book too!)

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{{Tal is disappointed in you, Christian parenting books.}}

I happen to think that hinging the value of our actions on results is a recipe for heartbreak and disappointment. Because children are not robots, given the right program they don’t always spit out what WE think is the desired result. And when we judge our actions based on the results achieved we judge them incorrectly.

Loving my child has value. Not because it will make them a better adult and not even because they will feel loved. It has value because the very act of giving love to another human being is important. Nothing else is needed in order to give it importance. No result has to be achieved to give it credence. Love is love. We love because the act of loving is everything.

<going to get religious now> I think of the life of Christ. In the moment of His death, when almost everyone had rejected him did His life have value? Was he a “success”? I believe He was. His act of love had value before it had been accepted by anyone. Had no one accepted His love it would still matter. It would still be love. Love doesn’t cease to exist because it’s rejected.

Today is enough. What I have to give my children today is enough. I don’t need the promise of a future perfect child to make what I do today matter. It matters because they matter, and they deserve love. And love I have to give.

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{{Pictures from May.}}