12.21.2006

A Most Difficult Subject Matter

I read for pleasure, and the biggest part of that pleasure is learning
something new. So I devour books on spirituality, history, sociology,
and other topics. But since I've become a parent, I've increasingly
tackled a most difficult subject matter: the psychology of a toddler.

One would think that out of all of the parenting that has been done
throughout the existence of mankind, we would've built up more
knowledge and expertise. And yet each new parent finds himself
fumbling around incompetently and cluelessly.

I have been no different. But the more I read, the more I understand.
It hasn't made parenting any easier, but it does give me a reverence
for the complexity and importance of providing a child with a suitable
environment in which to grow.

Which makes the reality of far too many kids' less than suitable
childhood environments all the more saddening to me. How difficult it
is for a child to navigate the chaos and nuance of our adult world,
even with good nutrition and loving parents and a stable home
situation and good schools! How much more difficult it is if that
child is missing some or all of those things.

They say that being a parent unmistakeably turns you inward, and it's
true that I spend a lot of time being a parent that I used to spend
doing outward things like social gatherings and service opportunities.
And I harbor no regret there. But I do hope that as I dive deeper
into the psychology of the childhood years, both through books and
through my own parenting experiences, that that inward focus will also
give me a greater appreciation and heart for kids in general, and that
to the extent that I have time, talent, and/or treasure to invest
outwardly, I will be all the more motivated and informed to do so.

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