Recently I read an article titled “A Manifesto Against ‘Parenting’.” It starts by claiming:
“The idea that parents can learn special techniques that will make their children turn out better is ubiquitous in middle-class America—so ubiquitous that it might seem obvious. But this prescriptive picture is fundamentally misguided. It’s the wrong way to understand how parents and children actually think and act, and it’s equally wrong as a vision of how they should think and act.”
The article goes on to explain how we should just be parents and think about what being good parents mean, instead of trying to transform our children into what we believe they should look like in that process called “parenting”.
After having “parented” my son for nearly 16 years, I’ve learned that this is true, and I regret what I’ve done.
The article also shows what’s wrong with the notion of “shepherding” and “discipling” in UBF and other organizations that are into this idea of molding their members into a certain image. In fact, the kind of shepherding practiced in UBF could also best be called “parenting”, because members are treated like little children. Worse, there is also a component of “training” like you train a dog in it.
Then I stumbled over this passage in the article:
“Perhaps the best metaphor for understanding our distinctive relationship to children is an old one. Caring for children is like tending a garden, and being a parent is like being a gardener. When we garden, we work and sweat and we’re often up to our ears in manure. We do it to create a protected and nurturing space for plants to flourish. As all gardeners know, nothing works out the way we planned…
Wow! I suddenly realized that this was something that Apostle Paul clearly understood when he wrote:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.