Jesus is an attachment parent

I haven’t been in a great space lately. My head is swimming and I’m having a hard time getting coherent thoughts out – especially into blogland. It’s a combination of all sorts of things, but mostly, I think, a lot of growing pains.

This subject, though, is one that took me by surprise. It might be shocking to some of you that it’s been over 2 years since Brad and I have been to church with any regularity. We were part of a church that we loved and moved into an intentional community with people we felt drawn to and then, well … and then we had Gwen. She turned our entire church experience upside down and that, coupled with some other stuff, has left us not attending church regularly. That’s not to say that I don’t think about faith and God much – I do. I think about that stuff a LOT. But, sharing my space with a toddler and a (very busy) baby all day means that when I do think about anything, it’s gone just as quickly as it came.

Again, this subject just keeps coming to the front of my brain … and I thought, “Hey. Maybe I should blog about it.”

So, here I am. And here’s my crazy thought process.

God, in the Old Testament, is like an authoritarian parent. He gave 10 rules and demanded obedience. He was not surprised yet unhappy when humans didn’t obey. He commanded respect by authority and fear of the consequences. (Yes, I know. It was a bit more than that, but really. That’s what it boiled down to.)

Jesus, however, in the New Testament commanded respect in a whole new way. Sure, He gave rules – although they were really broad guidelines: love God, love others. In the same way that attachment parenting seeks to create a connection between parent and child based on love, modeling desired behaviour, and respect, so to, did Jesus seek to create this connection with us. An attachment parent knows that his children are new here and learning how to be human. She knows that having a child “behave” just to avoid a punishment doesn’t mean that the child is responding out of a good place in their heart.

Jesus commanded respect by loving. He changed lives by showing people how to live a life of giving and of love – showing them how it looks to act out of a place of love for all. That’s precisely the point of attachment parenting: teaching children about empathy, love, and respect. And how does an attachment parent do this? By modeling the desired behaviour and knowing that children, out of the connection that you have fostered since birth as well as their innate desire to be social, will begin to act in accordance with your expectation. They will share because sharing is expected and feels good. They won’t hit, because violent isn’t respectful. They will help with running the house because we all work as a team.

And, just like Jesus teaching us to act better and out of a place of love, but being honest and asking for forgiveness when we mess up, an attachment parent knows that his kids are new at all of this and that the best way to learn is to make mistakes. She knows that it’s important to teach kids to ask for forgiveness by humbling herself to ask them for *their* forgiveness when she’s messed up. He realizes that by not forcing his daughter to apologize before she even knows what forgiveness is, that when she does understand what an apology is, and is developmentally able to empathize, THEN she will say that she is sorry and mean it.

Let’s all take some tips from Jesus – the ultimate attachment parent.

6 comments »

  1. Rhea says:

    pure awesome.

  2. Rae says:

    Kim. I like how you think. Thanks for sharing this!
    Also, I really love my church and think you guys might feel at home there. Lemme know if you ever want to visit.
    http://wentworthbaptist.ca/

  3. graham says:

    Hi Kim,
    I’d be very careful about this line of thinking, as you’re creating an tension between God (the Father) and Jesus (the Son) that does not exist in the Bible, whether Old or New Testament. Actually, I don’t think Jesus is ever described as a parent anywhere in the Bible – rather, quite often as a brother – so I don’t think he’s an attachment parent at all. Actually, the idea that we follow Jesus because he’s a good example is quite different than what he taught. He calls us to live new lives through the power of his resurrection, not through our own efforts to copy his example. Maybe we can talk more about this in person…?
    G.

  4. Liz says:

    Graham, if I may…
    I am a Christ-loving attachment parent and I know exactly what Kim is getting at. She is drawing a comparison between the legalistic eye-for-eye thinking of the Pharisees and an approach to child-rearing that punishes disobedience; just as Christ is an antidote to works-righteousness, attachment parenting is an antidote to harsher forms of child-rearing.
    Also, speaking of Christ as a parent is not without precedent. He is our mother and our father, our sister and our brother. I don’t see the problem with this.
    I am moved by the connections between the emphathy of the attachment parent and the forgiveness of our God. Thanks for the post, Kim.

  5. kim says:

    Thanks for further clarifying my position, Liz!

  6. graham says:

    Interesting post, Liz.
    Where is the precedent for speaking of Jesus as a parent that you refer to? I’ve never heard Christ described as a parent before…

    Kim, reflecting back to the beginning of your post, I’m wondering if you can identify a turning point that left you feeling disconnected from God and the church? You mention Gwen turning your experience of church upside down – what was it about her that led you to stop attending?

    We’ve been reflecting a lot recently on what the church is and how it’s really supposed to be a place where we can practice living the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s the place where we collectively learn to become more like Christ as you describe above. It should be a place where we learn to grow up in our faith, knowing that the judgment for our own disobedience is already taken care of in Christ’s punishment. We’ve begun to experience this, and hope that you guys can find a church where you, too, can grow.

    G.

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