Parenting and Red Riding Hood

// Erna de Bruin

Diet, old age and studying are things in life that’s not for the faint hearted, but parenting takes the cake. The discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 helped us to discover meaning in ancient hieroglyphs, but the ABCs of parenting still remain an unwritten book.

A book from my childhood which has often provided me with good advice when my own children are being mauled by life, is Red Riding Hood. Yes, the darling little girl who listened to the Wolf rather than Mommy did have a few moments of wisdom right at the end.

Why are your eyes so big? Eyes are the window to the soul. Pay careful attention to the twinkle in your child’s eye: Bright with joy but red, shattered and dull with disappointment when life has tired them out. Worse yet, what does my son see in my eyes when he did not make the Top 10 or when he does not want to follow your dream of being an actuary. There is no one as blind as he who does not want to see.
Why are your ears so big? Listen to your child. Make time. Even, if at times, I have had to swallow a few fiery jalapenos or slowly sip on a white hot chocolate, it has always been worth every cent to just let the dam walls break and wipe away the pain and fear on a few, cheap, paper serviettes.

When children are free to talk about the wrong choices that they have made or even the disappointments that they have experienced, then it becomes easier to also have team talks on behalf of Manchester United, the wilted Proteas, the tamed Cheetahs or even more contextual, every day issues.

Why are your hands so big? Parents can never give big enough hugs. Unconditional love provides your child with an opportunity to leave the proverbial pig pen and go home. The only way for me to equip myself for this is to constantly search for our Father’s love and forgiveness in the Word of God and to always remain on my knees. I can only support my child when the Lord is holding me tight.

Why is your mouth so big? “The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21. For me, this is a little scary. How are my words influencing my children? How am I talking to them? Is it with a cell phone to the ear or eyes nailed to a screen, a little nod of the head and a curt, “Later..” which actually means, “Never.”? What is my tone when speaking to them? Honestly, sometimes I feel a little ashamed. Yes, be honest. Children can cope with the truth and know when Mom and Dad are being less than honest in order to save their feelings. They might feel as if we think that they are weaklings. I leave sermons to the pastors, but pointing out the consequences of their choices, instead of condemning them, leave children feeling less rebellious when faced with experimenting with whatever flavour of the week they are being confronted with presently.

Yes, your child needs to brave the trails through the woods, but as long as their picnic basket is filled to the brim with love, the origin of which being the Source of all love, I feel brave enough to be a parent.