Zen and the Art of Parenting

Parents need their children as much as children need their parents.
-Paul Carvel

When you are a child growing up it may not occur to you that your parents are learning just as much as they teaching you.  A cliché we hear all the time is, “Children should come with instruction manuals.”

But the same logic applies the other way around.  We need our babies just as much as they need us.  This family arrangement does not work without the essential duality: children and their parents.

But there is another significant duality besides the parent/child relationship.  This is the duality of the father and mother, working in tandem to raise their offspring.  (This duality may exist just as harmoniously in same-sex couples where both individuals provide the requirements of each parental role.)

The combination of both parents’ presence can serve as a lifetime of checks and balances that provide for the best outcome when working.  Like the harmony symbolized in the Ying/Yang symbol, there are unique values and qualities that each parent brings when it comes to raising their offspring.

For instance, in the recent, critically acclaimed film, “Absent,” the filmmakers broker the idea that your father is actually the first person to either choose you or not choose you.  This idea is critical to understanding how well a person develops emotionally.  Mothers provide an automatic emotional bond with their offspring that is present throughout their nourishment through the womb.  But fathers have a critical role to play when that child is born.  They are our first exposure to the world at large- the first human being in our lives with the choice of seeing us and accepting us.

Neither of these parents’ worth outweighs the other.  Instead, like the necessary duality that the Ying/Yang symbol represents, they complement each other.  Get knocked down at school by a bully?  Who do you run to?  If you go to Mom she might wipe your nose and tell you it’s okay.  If you go to Dad, he might teach you how to fight back.  Of course, these are stereotypes based on traditional gender roles.  It may be more likely today that your “mama bear” tells you to fight back while your stay-at-home father dries your tears.  The point isn’t which parent lives up to the preconceived gender role.  The point is that each parent contributes according to their abilities, balancing out the instruction and support a child needs to grow up harmoniously.

We are opposed to denying any parent the right to being an invaluable portion of a child’s life because we understand the need for a child to grow up with two loving parents.

What are some of the things you are proud to say that you uniquely provide your child as their father/mother?


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