Early in the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, my pregnant spouse, Katie, and I learned that Donald Trump would be our next president. We just stared at each other in the dark, puzzled. As the news sank in and the sun came up, I remember thinking two distinct thoughts. First, I was genuinely sad that this cruel man would become the leader of our country in the same year our first child was to be born. I recognize this is kind of silly, but at the time, it felt wrong on a cosmic level. Second, I was angry that Trump’s election, which I wasn’t even sure he wanted to happen, would further feed his already out-of-control ego.
I am the mother of boys (one and three). Every day I am barraged with the sins and sickness waiting to take hold of my family as we navigate our time on this earth—toxic masculinity, white privilege, sexism, American exceptionalism, and so on and so on. Yet on top of all that, caring for God’s creation and being stewards of this earth are targeted to us as being exhausting, overdramatic, a lie, or outside our purview.
So much of what I learned as a kid about interacting with others, both at home and in the Church, was centered around simply being nice. On the surface, there’s nothing with being nice, of course. It’s just that being nice is superficial when compared to being kind. Since I became parent, this distinction has become increasingly important to me.
For many of us millennial parents, we are trying to shift out of the static approach of religious thinking via indoctrination that many of us received as kid—and all the exclusionary, binary, and harmful frames that comes from it. So I like how you provided the alternative as “inspiring” our kids. The four ways I try to do this with my kids are through nature, history, literature, and rituals.