“One thing that seems to get overlooked is that Jesus is the only person in recorded history whose parents thought he was a child of God rather than their own creative project and possession. This fact long could revolutionize parenthood – and do we ever need it now!” I came across this comment in a Christmas reflection from Gently Lead: How to Teach Your Children about God While Finding out for Yourself, by Polly Berrien Berends, a book I found a help when I was raising my kids. It’s sadly out of print. I’ve been taking another look lately.
At this time of year we celebrate Jesus’ birth, which we may view as unique. At the same time, if we really accept our children as being God’s children in the way Berends describes, we will relate to them quite differently, whatever their age. Many of us have work to do with the past generation as well, to come to terms with the way our parents viewed us as their project or possession. Holiday gatherings often offer the challenge and opportunity to address these questions — ideally, not by confronting but by simply being present with others, parents and children, in a slightly different way.