Monthly Archives: February 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Battle of Allegiance with the AP Community

So someone said she was distancing herself from the AP community after much rudeness and shaming and frustration.

And somebody else responded that mothers who believe in AP principles should stay to show other moms that the AP community is more than the loud extremist voices.

It’s an old, common story.  Look, in every group of people you’re going to find some people who are angry and self-righteous and way too focused on tell all the other people where they went wrong.  Welcome to middle school, high school, college, and beyond.  Welcome to humanity.  And I often do stay involved with a community despite the behaviors of certain people (Christianity being the prime example).  But mother hood is an extraordinary time.  Trying to develop habits that will impact the course of your child’s life is not to be underestimated.  Community is both of utmost importance and a place of real risk.  Someone who undermines what you’re doing or trying to do can have a huge impact on your outcomes.  We’re vulnerable, we mothers of young kids.  Anytime someone tries to change their behaviors or habits (or institute entirely new behaviors after a major transition like becoming a parent) they are more impressionable to peer pressure.

If you struggle to stay on track when you’re in the company of certain people, change your crowd.  By all means.  Your journey as  a parent is infinitely more important than your obligation to the AP world.  If the AP community wants to thrive (and it does, and I believe it will) then it is going to have to learn how to play nice.  But leaving harsh and critical people doesn’t mean isolating yourself.  It means finding the other not-nutjobs and hanging with them.  We need support.  Not just as mothers but as people.  We’re social creatures – herd animals.

For every internet community that is angry and hurtful there is another herd of animals who are less inclined to rip your throat out.  They’re out there.  And as more people leave the angry mob for groups a little more inclined to practice what they preach (i.e. showing the kindness and grace the extend to their kids to adults online as well) the face of the AP community will change.  People will hear the loud and angry voices, but if we stop polarizing ourselves people will also see the rest of the community too.

This isn’t a black and white choice.  There is no official membership to The AP Club.  You don’t have to choose between bullies and your duties to The Club.  Just move your voice, your face, and your presence to a group that better demonstrates what you believe in.  You’ll thrive better, serve better, and experience a lot less stress.

[The problem with my argument is that the most strident voices on the internet are also people who spend the most time on the internet.  Some of them are going to pop up wherever you go.  I highly recommend Facebook’s block feature for dealing with those people.  ;)]

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The gift of a willful child

Sometimes I watch other parents with their kids and wonder at how docile they are.  Some kids just . . . obey.  It’s entrancing.

 

And I want to ask “HOW did you DO that?” as if their child’s personality is somehow the doing and making of the parent.  But let’s all say this together: My child is not my report card.

 

There is no intangible parent figure going to rain down punishment on me for my child having a bad day.  God is not going to hold me accountable for their behavior or compliance.  That’s part of the beauty of Christianity.  It’s one of the few religions where I answer directly to God and not through or to anyone else.  There IS accountability, but always and only processed through grace.

 

So anyway, when I’m standing there gazing at some beautiful little child coloring quietly while the parent finishes a conversation (or cup of coffee, or sermon, or whatever) and my child is literally running circles around me quizzing me on baptism (or elephants or trains or why the temperature drops when the sun goes down) I often find myself questioning their parenting to mask my questioning of my own parenting.  I alternate between wondering what the other parent must be doing right and what they must be doing wrong. I mean, you must beat them or something right? And maybe all my flailing attempts to be kind, gentle, respectful, and all the rest are really fruitless and going to mess up both the kids, my family, my marriage and society.

 

But I know my kids.  I know them especially well because I see so much of myself in my daughter.  My parents tried to lay down the law.  They were the dictators, I was to be obedient.  If I did X, I would be spanked.  If I did not do X, I would be spanked.  Do as your told.  All of that.  You know what?  It got my parents no where.  It destroyed our relationship and did major destruction in my head.  But in the end, that abuse becomes a sick, weird silver lining because I KNOW that will not help my daughters.  I know that they are too smart, too strong, too passionate, and too beautiful to be broken down by my own insecurities.  I could spank them in an effort to look in control to other parents, but my girls would only fight harder.  And in the end, they’re the ones in control of that relationship.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if you are in a power struggle with a 2 year old you have already lost that battle.

 

What’s more I know God does not give these qualities out to just anyone.  Not all people have this perseverance, this genius, this glow.  My girls are destined for something incredible.  I can see it in the gifts they’ve been given.  Breaking those gifts tries to usurp God’s authority in their lives and does nothing for any of us involved.

 

So I’ll answer the questions about baptism and elephants and trains and why the temperature drops when the sun goes down.  And I’ll run in circles with them and chase them when they dash off in the store.  I’ll get them exercise so they can finally rest and go to the library to find answers to all of their questions.  I’ll respect them physically, emotionally, and spiritually and respect God by doing so.  It’s obedience to God.  God loved me enough to give me these children, and I will not defy him by destroying these gifts.

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