mosaic background behind a photo of Amy Julia's family stands in a single file line on a path high above a valley

Holding the Lines as a Parent

I was going to be the parent who holds all the lines.

The no-cell-phones-until-high-school line.

The dresses-that-look-your-age-for-the-middle-school-dance line.

The only-one-sugary-treat-a-day-and-only-a-small-one-at-that line.

And the common-sense-media-tells- me-all-I-need-to-know-about-what-you-should-be-watching-on-television line.

These lines are intended to protect our kids from consumption and materialism and exposure to ideas that are inappropriate. And yet they can feel like lines intended to restrict them from exploration and fun and connection with other people. 

So, we gave William a cell phone earlier than planned.

We let Marilee wear a dress to the dance that seemed designed for a 21-year-old.

And you can just imagine what the sugar and television consumption look like around here. 

So right now, we are not holding lots of lines. We are talking about our tech use and sharing our screen time reports with the whole family once a week. We’re talking about what we want to put into our bodies and minds. We’re talking about clothing as both a means of self-expression and a way to communicate hospitality to other people. 

The problem with holding the lines is when they become means of control and perfectionism. We are definitely making mistakes as parents. And I hope we are making those mistakes in witness to what it looks like to live a life of grace and love. 

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