News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Confession in Search of a Dialog (2)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Confession in Search of a Dialog (2)

In response to a comment on my previous posting at, I replied with the following:

Katie, I am sorry for responding so late to your comment. I wanted to find the time to thank you in the appropriate terms that your comment requires.

I agree with you that there is this silver lining, as you put it, in my daughter's behavior. Indeed, I am somewhat proud that she ended the relationship in the way that she did and did not simply hang on to it as some might. I think this shows a sense of character and self-awareness that I had hoped she'd develop in this odyssey that she finds herself on. ...

Some on the list may find this irresponsible of me as a parent. While I always advised her not to engage in this behavior until she was older, I did not overreact to the news that she had begun earlier than I would have wished. I've always stressed a healthy relationship in our discussions of this issue, and I did not think that a teenager could do that. So, I fought her insistence that she was more mature than I was giving her credit for.

Yet, I knew that she would have to find her way in these matters as she must in her search for self-knowledge. This is the larger issue that I tried to raise in my original diary entry. That is, as parents trying to instill a sense of ethics and responsibility in children, how do we do that? And for a religious person, doesn't this mean making the children abide by the rules and guidelines set out by the sacred scripture?

The traditional way of looking at this is to instill in one's children a sense of the religion by strict adherence to the practices and doctrines of the religion. In this way, traditions and customs have grown up that explain how and why children should behave so that they become good people religiously and socially.

Perhaps that is best. Perhaps not. What I have suggested is that the objective of parenting must be the development of the child's spirit so that they can become open to religion, should they decide to do that. Since I believe that religious belief must be free and not coerced, this can only happen when a child or young adult is capable of understanding themselves to the point that they also wish to respond to the need of believing in something higher than themselves or society.

This is what I have called the education of life. Perhaps it is best to allow our children to be educated by life so that they then develop the social and biological aspects of their selves. Should they then decide that standing before a higher power is something they need and want, then they will do so as human beings who have grown as far as they can within the given social and cultural contexts provided by time and history.

As a parent, of course, this is a time of trial and fear and trembling. Just as one fears when children go off on their own and engage in things without your oversight and care, so the idea that giving them this freedom to risk failure is a sign of love and perhaps as much a religious undertaking as educating them in the faith.

Thanks Katie for understanding the side with the light on it. I will take your comment as a sign that things will indeed work out for my daughter's betterment, as I hope and pray they do.

No comments: