It’s hard not to feel envious or jealousy when browsing photos from friends on social media. They all look so happy. The parents seem calm. The kids are dressed impeccably and on their best behavior. Did they really snap that photo on their iPhone or was it staged by a professional?
The perception is that this family is just about perfect.
I’ve seen this play out where the perception they portray online is one of a perfect marriage and happy children while waiting for their next photo-op.
But look a little closer and you’ll see the signs that perception doesn’t quite match reality. Behind those well-choreographed photo sessions are parents who sleep in separate rooms, children who barely acknowledge their parents, and a whole lot of shallowness.
I no longer look to other parents or families to help me assess how I’m doing as a parent, spouse or friend. Comparisons of this kind don’t work very well. I’ve learned that many of these people are not happy, and are simply playing a role in a dysfunctional family.
We all want to appear that we have our act together. Social media allows us to control how others perceive us. That’s both a blessing and a curse.
Keep it real. Perfection is boring.
One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is giving my children the gift to believe or not to believe.
It will be their choice either way. They won’t be forced to attend the same church I was raised in. I like this quote from Richard Dawkins:
It is a remarkable coincidence that almost everyone has the same religion as their parents and it always just happens to be the right religion.
Children naturally gravitate to the belief system of their parents. Whether your parents are Catholic, Buddist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Mormon or one of the nearly 4200 religions around the world, there is a good chance the religion you believe to be true will be the same one your parents believe to be true.
If our children want to try out different churches, they are welcome to do so. Even though I don’t believe in God, I will encourage them to learn as much as they can about the people, history, and doctrine of any religion they consider joining.
Both topics to challenging to discuss, especially with those close to us.
I don’t recall my parents talking about politics with their children or with each other. When I was very young, my father worked at a Junior High School, and sometimes he’d take me into his classroom. One time I remember he turned on a black and white TV to listen to the Watergate hearings as he worked.
I assumed my parents were Republicans because they backed Reagan and Bush Sr. And they were Mormon. At an early age, it was made clear to me that Mormons were Republicans. Democrats were dangerous. Nevermind that Nixon was Republican.
It would be many years later while attending the University of Utah that my political views began to lean Democrat. My interest in Mormonism also began to wane as what I was told at church didn’t match up with what I believed or felt inside.
I wonder what path my children will take?
Kim and discuss politics around the home quite often. Religious discussions happen in our home, but not as much as before. If they do, it’s because I bring up the topic. I’m proud that my children are being raised outside of any religion. Young minds are too fertile to taint with religious dogma.
As a parent, I want to allow my children to find their own path. To experiment. To make mistakes. To experience sorrow and joy. I don’t assume my path is the best fit for them.
I’m excited to see what they do with their lives without the pressure of belonging to a certain religion.