right relationship

I've been thinking more lately about child rearing. Both because of our hopes for a child, and because several of our friends have children so I'm interacting with them more often. I haven't been especially interested in the challenges of bringing up children before. Maybe it's because I haven't understood how it fit with what I saw as the spiritual purpose of the rest of life. It seemed like just providing all the physical and psychological building blocks for later life, but that the most important "meaning of life" lessons couldn't be learned until later.

When I think of how our culture (and often parents) mis-teach kids, I think it has to do with not learning their "right relationship" with other people and the natural world and God. It's easy to find examples of how the wealth and power of our nation has led to pride and an inflated understanding of ourselves in relation to others and the earth. And this is often passed on to children, consciously or unconsciously. There's also the common parental tendency to exalt their own children in relationship to other people (or even in relationship to themselves). Sometimes also the tendency to tear a child down. All of these teach a child wrongly about their relationships to others, which invariably ends up being confronted later by people, and causing painful consequences when they bump up against reality.

What seems most helpful is to try, in word and action, to communicate the truth about a child's real relationship to other people and things. And God. Help them find where they really stand. This reminds me of the observation among many animal species that it's very important for each individual to find its place in the pack. They need that to feel secure. I think it's also of great benefit to us to rightly understand our place, and our relationship to others.

Of course, ultimately, this "right relationship" is determined by God, not by our culture or society. Actually, I think behaving according to our true relationship will cause us to often come into conflict with our society that tries to impose its own relational structure. That's also a lesson I'd like my child to learn.

And this learning of "right relationship" and learning how to interact rightly in our relationships (especially with God) is not just a lesson for children but for our whole lives.