In my research, I’ve been writing a bit about the paradox of perfection. As young girls, we are bombarded with images and ideas of what it means to be flawless and desirable. In our pursuit of perfection, we go to extremes. Millions of dollars are made from our insecurities. Blemish erasers, eyelash boosters, hair straighteners, hair curlers, tummy tuckers, breast enhancers, skin toners, and all the other ‘ers’ send us a message that we are not worthy or lovable unless we are the most perfect version of ourselves. Sad, since God thinks we are perfect as we are when we are covered in Christ.
As young girls turn into young women, the struggle persists–but it morphs. This is not a self-righteous message. As a 35 year old woman, I still struggle. Though the physical desires for perfection that plagued me from adolescence have somewhat diminished, now it’s morphed into ideals of perfection for my career, my mom-skills, how well I have decorated my house, how many papers I’ve published, how well-behaved my kids are, and how well-read I am. Each minute is an exhausting excursion of self-comparison and self-loathing. Either I hate myself for what I was a minute ago, or I hate myself for who I can’t compare to. What a trap.
I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be in this life on my own. It’s exhausting, until I remind myself that only in Christ can I be free. Let us not to disillusioned with self-obsession and self-loathing for God loves us just the way we are.
I’m sure I won’t win any “mom-of-the-year” awards for this, but I sat down with my then 8 and 9 year old and wrote all the bad words I knew on a piece of paper. The list was long. Why? “Why?” – my daughter even asked. “Mom, cross them out!!!!!” She already knew some and felt uncomfortable seeing me spell them out around the kitchen table.
Well from the advice of a good friend (this wasn’t actually my idea), this is the way we need to parent now. In the digital age of the internet, we prop up smart phones for our one-year olds to sit entranced so that we can peacefully eat dinner when out with friends. The children know how to take selfies. They figure out how to navigate Netflix and we encourage this. Then, at about a certain age, we freak out and take those very same smart phones away. Talk about contradictions. At an age where we should be handing over and letting go, we constrict.
Back to the original story–I wrote those curse words out on paper for a couple of reasons: 1) to teach them what every single one means and let them know that looking it up on the Internet may lead to some inappropriate sites. This builds on my previous post about talking about sex earlier than later. 2) I want my kids to know that they can talk to me about certain things–that I’m not embarrassed or angry about them knowing certain concepts.
They’re young. They’re minds are somewhat pure and undefiled from visual images and though I can’t control whether they see these things forever, I can help them understand a little bit. I’m not sure if this is the right answer, but I don’t regret it either.
Perhaps I would not have felt so compelled to do this if we were parenting in the 1980s, but we’re not longer in the pre-digital age. Information is at their little fingertips and I hope to prepare them to use it well. Looking forward to hearing criticism.