This week I’ve been thinking about the pendulum…
Not a literal pendulum mind you…
A metaphorical one.
One I’ve observed.
My observations could be and are probably wrong, but they’re mine.
When I was attending UVF (then VFCC), I found a lot of my preconceptions challenged. The way I viewed God, the church, and scripture, yes, but also the way I viewed life in general.
I was raised in a very Pentecostal church. We didn’t dance with snakes or drink venom, but there was an emphasis on the supernatural. During which, I saw some strange things. Explanations for which, I still don’t have.
It was supernatural.
Anyway, when I started college, I brought with me a lot of notions I had about how the world worked. As I mentioned above, these notions were challenged, and my worldview began to morph and solidify. That’s the purpose of the university (and education in general). To educate and produce scholars capable of formulating their own thoughts. Being raised in a very non-structured, charismatic movement, I latched on to the information from the other side. Clearly, liturgy and straight expository preaching was the answer to ALL of my problems. The issue was clearly that the previous generation had abandoned homiletics and hermeneutics, and it was my duty to mend that mistake!
Of course, I ended up going into theatre and all this is moot now…
The fact still remains that I swung the other direction.
Brandy and I found a contemporary liturgical in VA Beach and started going there. We started exploring the Roman Catholic church, the Anglicans, the Episcopals, and Eastern Orthodox.
Because we’d swing the other direction.
This week I started to think about how this same pendulum swing happens generationally with so much more than theology. Specifically, in regards to parenting.
I know a lot of people my age who complain about the strict structures of their toxic upbringing. How they felt like they were forced to conform to the molds of what is masculine and feminine. This of course led to an identity crisis when they weren’t able to achieve that paradigm of whatever gender norm they were pressed to conform to.
I can’t help but wonder if maybe our emphasis on gender fluidity is in direct response to the way we were raised.
Note: Do not get me wrong. I’m not taking a stand on anything. These are just thoughts. I don’t want to even touch on transgenderism. I am not trans and cannot begin to understand the gravity of what trans people experience. I’m a strictly discussing gender norms in their relation to parenting.
My question for all of us emerging parents is this…
What will our children say about us?
Do you think we’re the generation that has it nailed down?
Or do you think this is just another swing of the pendulum?
I don’t know.
I don’t think of my childhood as toxic even though I was raised to be a man.
I was taught that emotions were good, and it was okay for boys to cry…
I learned to suppress them on my own.
I didn’t grow up idolizing John Wayne though I love his movies…
But I do appreciate a good tough good guy character.
To be honest, I’m kind of an intersection of masculinity and femininity.
I willingly chose and enjoy a profession that involves putting on makeup and pretending to be someone else. I love football and heavy music, but I also really like getting my haircut, and I’d kill for a mani/pedi. I cry during movies, but I also push down my real emotions like a true warrior. I’m vain and borderline narcissistic. I can’t pass by a reflective surface without looking at myself. I like beer and pizza. I like attention. I’m a whore for affirmation. I want my wife to know what I’m thinking and feeling before I do. I would love for her to come home with flowers for me. Oh, did I also mention I’m a stay at home dad while my wife works full-time.
You know what’s great about everything I just listed?
Although some of it is classically Male or Female…It doesn’t have to be either.
I don’t have to suppress those things that make up Me.
But society judges.
I get that.
I get that every time I tell someone my wife works, and I stay at home.
But I’m an actor and a writer.
I guess what I’m getting at is this…
We as parents have a responsibility to raise our children.
We have a responsibility to nurture their sensibilities and proclivities.
And to force on them the opposite of what our parents did just because we turned out to be self-obsessed, emo adult-babies (speaking for myself) is just as damaging as repeating their every mistake.
Maybe we just need to learn from our and parents’ mistakes and try to do better.
Each new generation has the potential to be the best one.
They just need some guidance.
Maybe it’s time to stop the pendulum mid-swing and find a happy medium.
Do what you will with that.