For today’s “Tuesday’s Tidbits,” I want to introduce you to Mary DeMuth, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I met Mary years ago at church and got to know her through women’s Bible studies. Then, she was an aspiring writer. Now, she’s a published, recognized author of numerous articles, several novels and two non-fiction parenting books. Her latest work, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, just hit bookstores. Writing it while she and her family were missionaries in France, Mary gleaned from that challenging situation some fascinating truths about parenting. I’m thumbing through the book this week, and I think you should too! Listen in on a conversation with Mary, as she describes postmodernity and discusses her approach to parenting.
Why did you write this book? Aren’t there already a bazillion parenting books out there?
Yes, I do believe there are a bazillion. I always struggle when I write a parenting book because I feel so darned small and weak. I don’t parent perfectly. But, we did live through two and half years in France, the hotbed of hyper-postmodernity. We had to learn how to parent our kids in that culture. It occurred to me that the things we learned would be helpful to American parents too.
What does postmodern mean? And why should it matter to parents?
Postmodernism is the waiting room between what used to be a modern worldview and what will be. Postmoderns believe that rationalism and/or more education doesn’t necessarily create a better society. They typically don’t embrace the notion of absolute truth, though they reach for the transcendent. The question for parents is how will we mine the current worldview, even as it shifts? What in it can we embrace as biblical? What is not biblical? What I’ve seen in the church is a fearful adherence to what is familiar. So we cling to modern ideas, even though they may not be biblical, and shun postmodern ideas even when they might be biblical. Our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is.
How can a parent help their children prepare for the world outside their door?
Become a conversational parent. Talk to your kids. Listen. Share your story. Dare to believe that God has much to teach you through your kids. Be humble enough to learn from them. Create a haven for your kids, an oasis in your home that protects, supports, and gives kids space to be themselves. Take seriously the mandate that you are responsible for the soul-nurturing of your children.Teach your children to joyfully engage their world, while holding tightly to Jesus’ hand. Teaching this comes primarily from modeling it in your own life. Do you engage your neighbors? Are you more interested in God’s kingdom than your own? Admit your failures openly with your children, showing how much you need Jesus to live your daily life.
Are you saying that authentic parents don’t always have it all together as some would like to think?
Yep! We are all frail, needy humans. If we present ourselves as perfect parents, never failing, always doing this correctly, we show our children we have no need of Jesus. We also set up a standard of perfection—that to be a Christian, one has to be perfect. This can lead to our children creating elaborate facades or hiding behind masks. I’d rather have my children see that even mommies make mistakes. Even mommies need Jesus every single day.