Spiralled Edges: The Changing Role of Parenting
Today is Father’s Day in the UK and America and that has put me in mind of how my relationships with my sons has changed over time.
As a parent, I know that if I am doing my job correctly the day will come when my children won’t need me to make decisions for them or hold them up. I have to trust that I have given them the skills they need to navigate their way through adulthood.
My eldest son is an adult, and has been for several years. Occasionally, I will have someone ask me – “How could you let him do X?” To which I respond, “It’s none of my business.” While he will share parts of his life with me, my role has mother is very much in the background.
On the other hand, my younger sons are on the cusp of adolescence (complete with hormonal mood swings, suddenly standing taller than me, and grunting responses). They are beginning to assert their independence. But, they still need me to provide boundaries and structure as they explore what it means to be adults within the safety net of home.
As I have grown and developed as a person, my relationships with Deity have changed in much the same ways as my relationship as a parent towards my children has changed.
As a child, in a figurative sense but also perhaps literal, I needed the Gods to hold me up, and carry me through the difficulties in life. Rules needed to be strict, with little room for interpretation.
When I entered spiritual adolescence, I began to question my relationships with Deity, and began to rebel against the authority placed upon me. Which rules fit, which don’t? Don’t hold me up, let me do it myself.
In recent years, my relationship has begun to change once again. The Gods are taking a step back. “Please hold me up,” I say. “I can’t do it.” And they told me, “Yes, you can.”
It’s a scary place to be. But the exhilarating thrill as I realised that yes, I really was capable and strong enough to hold myself up… Imagine the first time you rode your bike without stabilisers or your parent holding you upright.
Can I do it? What if I fall? To which the Gods reply, “Of course you can do it. You have proven to yourself that you can.” And they take a step back to allow me to find my own balance and strength.
I know They’re around. I can call upon Them for advice or support when I need Them. But They aren’t carrying me any longer. When life becomes difficult, and I see just one set of footprints in the sand, they are my footprints because I am strong enough and capable enough to walk on my own even through life’s troubles. If you look carefully though, you just might spot the faint outline of my Patron Deities in the background, beaming with pride.
Image 2: By Rosendahl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons