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General Thoughts from Sunday, August 1

Last Sunday, our book discussion group met to discuss our latest reading assignment. The material covered the first four of our Unitarian Universalist Principles: The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person; Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations; Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement to Spiritual Growth in Our Congregations; and A free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning.

We began our discussion with the first questions I posted last week: "What part of this chapter spoke to you? How does it relate to your parenting and what parts might you struggle with?" Our conversation was wide ranging and touched on many of the difficult issues parents regularly contend with. We talked about respect. We want our children to learn to respect others. We can teach them skills to assist them in learning and showing that respect such as really listening. At the same time we often feel that they do not listen to us, and show a lack of respect for us as their parents. This led to a conversation about correction/disciple and how to do that in a way that does not harm their self esteem (the sense of their own inherent worth.)

We talked about how we as parents need to learn to accept and appreciate our children just as they are even when that is not always the way we wish or had hoped they would be. We also discussed how our sense of knowing and appreciating our children can be challenged as they become teens.

In discussing our children's own personal sense of inherent worth and dignity we noted that our messages to them may not be picked up from what we explicity say to them. Sometimes our attitudes or off-handed remarks may be interpreted by our children in way we did not mean them. Their sense of self esteem or lack of it sometimes develops not by what we as parents do or say, but from others our child encounters in their lives (family, teachers, friends, and even the media.)

Our discussion included the tension we feel as parents when thinking about how we teach our children about justice, equity and compassion. We feel a need to shelter our children from some of the horrors and injustices in the world, at the same time we want them to learn to live in a the real world. We talked about watching the developing mental abilities and thought processes of our children to help us try to figure out where the appropriate balance is for each of our children. We also talked about the fact that it can be our children who lead us toward the spiritual and toward justice. Their view of the world and the questions they ask can often make us stop and assess our own thoughts and actions. 

Our time is limited on Sunday mornings and the conversation could have continued. If you have thoughts, please add your comments by clicking on the comment note below. The reading assignment for August 15 is pages 101-132 in Tending the Flame.

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