United Church of Christ

Parenting

When does one stop being a parent?

Come December, all my children will have reached their 30th birthday. They are all now very functional adults. Two are married. One of them has a child of his own and is soon to be a father to a second child.

I haven’t stopped being a parent to them. I still call each of them every week, often more than once. I still feel a sense of deep responsibility for their well-being. I still want to hear from them about their joys and their sorrows.

I still set my calendar to make sure that I get to visit them in their homes, and set aside time for them to come visit me.

I still take pride in their accomplishments. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances where that changes.

When does one stop being a child?

I am 57 years old. A few weeks ago, I drove 9 hours to spend one day with my mother. I call her often.

I still wait to hear her tell me she loves me, or is proud of something I have done. When something big or important happens, I need to call her and let her know about it. I look at photographs from my childhood with her and Dad, who died two and half years ago, and delight in the memories.

I can’t imagine me ever feeling differently about my parents and the role they have played in my life.

All of that begs a simple question: what would motivate a nation to tear a child away from their parents?

There is a sacred trust entered into when two people agree to parent a child. While circumstances will sometimes require that one or both parents give that trust to another, it would have to be a terrible set of circumstances that would lead a government to actively and purposefully create a policy that would deprive loving and capable parents of that sacred trust.

The mere crossing of a border, especially when that crossing is compelled by war, famine, or oppressive powers that threaten the health of the child – would not rise to that standard.

Depriving parents of their sacred trust for purely political reasons is as egregious and evil an act as I have witnessed in my lifetime. That it is done with no care for the consequences and with an obvious disregard for the kind of record-keeping that would at least allow a parent to know where their child has been taken so that makes this kind of evil even more pernicious.

This is the kind of evil that affects the soul of an entire nation. This is a spiritual wounding that is causing deep and irreparable harm not only to the parents and the children who are directly impacted by this policy, but to the good people of this nation who are now witnesses to this unfolding atrocity.

An entire world watched with held breath hoping that children in Thailand could be rescued from an underground cave. We all care for the health and safety of the world’s children, no matter what their circumstances. Now, we have to endure the spiritual trauma of knowing that we are ripping children from the arms of loving and grieving parents; and utterly unable to reunite them even after their detention ends.

I pray for us all, because we will suffer this together. I pray that as the pain of this lingers, we will act more boldly and more effectively. Our grandchildren are going to read about this the same way they have read about slavery and internment camps and concentration camps. We must act now to end this – that is not a political choice but a matter of recovering spiritual wholeness.

Let there be an end to a madness that threatens to undo us all on this, our journey Into the Mystic.

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