I was recently sitting in a circle of friends catching up on a few weeks worth of happenings. One friend had encountered a parent with rather unorthodox parenting ideas and this parent (whom none of us except one knew) became our topic for about forty five seconds. This post is not about this parent’s style, but rather my response to it, so let’s just say – for illustrative purposes- that the parent kept a well stocked fountain drink dispenser in the child’s room, along with top tiered cable and also the kid is allowed to drive Grandma to the grocery.
Upon hearing that a parent like this exists, our whole circle made a loud sucking sound as we gasped at the audacity. Then we each took our 10-15 second turn expounding on our disturbed disposition on the matter.
As social norms extended a turn to me to speak, I opened my mouth to say that this parent should have to take classes and blah, blah, blah, but instead, my mouth became possessed and I said, “I’ve got a lot of problems parenting, thankfully, this is not one of my problems, but I’ve got ‘em.” Boy, have I got problems.
We like tidy boxes, don’t we? Snap shots of someone’s day to day are enough for us to put them in a box with a label. ”People I trust” in one box, “people I don’t trust” in another. ”Good people” and “Bad people” are neatly placed in their boxes and it takes a wild expression of opposing character for us to relabel any one of them.
I think that my little afternoon exercise with the soda dispensing parent was a God given opportunity to see how quickly I lose a chance for insight when I slap a label on someone. Why does this person operate this way? What is their story? They make different mistakes than the ones I make. What can I learn from what they are doing right?
Why not just put everyone in a boxed labeled “Miscellaneous?”
You are going to encounter someone this week who is failing miserably in some area. Thank God that you do not share their problem, and then seek a whole lotta mercy for the problems you do have. This has been my goal since then and I have found it most rewarding and quite freeing.