Sunday, November 18, 2007

parent used to be a noun

When did "parent" become a verb? Sometime before I started pediatric practice 20 years ago, but not too long before. It used to be that you were a parent, it was something you were vs. something you did.I guess when you were a parent back in the day you did it, too, but maybe you weren't so conscious of the doing part, more just the being part. The realization of the daunting task of being a parent and doing the job of parenting has made for some interesting problems. Every decision we make could affect our children now or in the future. We hear about people whose lives were affected by things their parents did and said. Some of those people were damaged irreparably, others seem to have made lemonade out of their experiences. Some are nondrinkers because their dad was an alcoholic, others are alcoholics, too. It seems to depend less on the experience than on the person.
To look ahead as a parent of an infant and to think of the many decisions that will need to be made and the things that need to be done in order to make sure this child grows up to be a mature human being who is socially and fiscally responsible and God-fearing and a good wife/husband/mother/father, can make even the bravest person cringe in fear. I don't think God does things like that to us, we do it to ourselves. He hands us "bite size" pieces of life to handle, then He hands us the next thing, and so on throughout life. Maybe what we are doing to ourselves as "verb" parents who think we really control our child's destiny is to believe what the serpent told Eve in the Garden - that we can be gods, like God, and know right and wrong. To see, or to think we see, the future and what must be done, that's what the serpent was offering, and it probably sounded good to Eve at the time, and it still sounds good to us. Maybe nowhere does it become more obvious than in the anxiety of parents.

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