The Unanswered Questions of Parenting
Each of us enter this world and are introduced into our first relationship, that of our parents. We breach the earth in need of everything and it is our parents who are assigned the task of meeting our need of everything. We are born into a context whose family invites our truth, or as is more often the case, we are taught to lie at a very early age, however unintentionally. More often than not, children are rewarded for keeping quiet. We grow up following the dictates of what our elders say, while living with the truth of what our elders do. We are at a loss of how to bridge the gap between our instruction and lived life. We are cared for, but become parents ourselves and instinctively play out the same cycle with our children.
The existential burden of maturity is not a one-sided revisionist history where we can casually point the finger at the flaws in our upbringing, for there isn’t a person who has ever lived who didn’t endure this. Parenting like all human enterprises is deficient as well as benign. The more fundamental questions are: Who are my parents? What were the forces with which they struggled? On what resources could they rely on growing up? How did they find meaning in their lives? What did they do with what they had? Who nurtured them? What truths informed them? Whose voice addressed them? Whom did they trust? To whom could they speak their truth?
The dilemma here is if my parents struggled to find their voice in a fair and reasoned way, what chance do I have of discovering it? There is a hole in the parenting process about which few questions are ever asked; the unexamined expectations that one generation holds of another. Scarred by the consequences of parental legacies does not change our fundamental obligation to seek healing, freedom, and our responsibility to teach the process of give and take to children yet unborn. It requires the bold act of direct address, where I sit with all that I am and listen to all that you are regardless of whether or not my efforts evoke a reciprocal response. I alone must decide to raise my voice and speak my truth in the trust that it will receive a response in the soul of another. Healing occurs, it can only occur, through genuinely trustworthy exchange. By accident or design, every act of healing is based on the foundation of trustworthy discourse. Whatever is problematic in our existence will find its roots in the act of relating or the act of not relating. It is impossible to distrust a person, it is the relationship we have trouble trusting. Trust doesn’t reside in a person; it resides in the act of relating as we find balance in our give and take. We all seek certainty that there is a soil and an existence and that the world is not condemned to deprivation; that there is redemption.
Consider the following premises:
• When people chronically give without receiving or take without giving, imbalance occurs.
• Direct address—a word, a gesture, a tear, a nod of the head, a genuine presence, a gift, a tone, a question posed—is the cornerstone of relational healing.
• A consistent inability to speak your truth and to invite the truth of another, results in a viral decay of the relationship.
• The resistance to direct address results in façade; the act of seeming instead of being that protects our vulnerabilities in a way that keeps us from knowing and being known.
• Seeming corrodes being and infects the process of healing through meeting.
• Movement toward direct address signifies a willingness to own my contribution to injustice and estrangement—allowing room for you to do the same.
• Confronting the sources of injuries can level fear, free energy, open options, sanctify the quality of existence.
• The freedom to be is an earned freedom, strengthened by grace, which comes from an awareness and an intimate understanding of my truth and limits, embracing and honoring them through disclosure and testing them in circumstances brimming with possibilities of being injured.
• Despite our distaste of the grind and our devout wish for an easier path, none exist.