“If you think about our testimonies—peace, simplicity, truth, and integrity,” Scott Holmes suggests, “there’s really no stronger test of those than dealing with a crying infant or an angry two-year-old.” But, as Scott and other Friends explain, parenting is also about helping our children access their own connection to Spirit.
- Subscribe to QuakerSpeak so you never miss a video
- See a list of all the videos we’ve produced.
- Read Friends Journal to see how other Friends describe the substance of Quaker spirituality
Scott Holmes: I mean, if you think about our testimonies– peace, simplicity, truth, and integrity– there’s really no stronger test of those than dealing with a crying infant or an angry two-year old or a spouse who’s really frustrated you for falling asleep when all hell is breaking loose, and so practicing those qualities under those severe conditions of parenting are really magical to try and make it a real test. It’s not some great thing we sit around and think about, peace; it’s “what am I yelling up the stairs to get these stupid people to go to bed?”
Seeing That of God In Your Children
Su Penn: Quakers have always believed quite profoundly in equality, and also in this idea that there’s that of God in everyone and that you– when you’re approaching someone you’re trying to approach that, meet that of God in them with that of God in you, and if you really explore the potential of these ideas for how you relate with children it will transform how you parent.
Walter Sullivan: When I was the parent of young children one of the issues that was up among us was: how clean are we going to keep our house? And it became a pattern between us and it was something that kind of captured me and captured my spirit and captured my soul, and I wasn’t such a good parent in those interactions. And then I had this insight that actually rather than using force to influence my children’s behavior, I could actually step closer to them. I could take a step towards them and be in relationship with them, and so there’s this moment of shift when I’m sort of in that old pattern and then I take a breath or something, or God reaches out to me, and my heart softens and I open up and I remember to be in relationship with my children in the way that I want to be in relationship with them, and that’s what it’s like, to me, when God comes to me.
Valuing Children’s Access to Spirit
Cherie Bock: So something for me that’s important about being a Quaker parent is introducing my children to the present Spirit at work in their lives already and that they can be aware of that Spirit, and trying to help name in them when I see the Spirit working through them. And part of it is also then being willing to accept that when it comes back to me. So, when my children maybe hear something that is of God or maybe the opposite: when they maybe kind of elder me about what is not of God about the way that I am behaving or the way that I am speaking to them, and so allowing the relationship to go both ways. Allowing myself to be one who’s the mentor and listening for the Spirit at work in their lives and being able to name that, and also accepting that they know and hear God in ways that are different from what I hear, and being willing to hear that in places in my life where I need correction or I need a deeper level of awareness in my own life.
Gil George: To a certain extent we as parents have duties to our children to, you know, make sure they’re not killing themselves. Beyond that, we need to teach– and this is what I’m working on and it’s not always easy– but teaching my children that their voice matters and that daddy and mommy can learn from your connection to God as well, and actually listen when they have something to say about God and not try to correct them but actually to just listen to what they’re experiencing and to recognize that in some ways they’re going to see more clearly than I am. So that openness to learning from my children, and from the children that I run into in meeting and other places, that these children have access– equal access– to the voice of God as I do.
- 1) How do you make space and honor children and their connection to Spirit?
- 2) How does Quakerism influence your parenting?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.