My heart broke this past weekend thinking about the families who had planned for a Rapture that did not occur: the plans they made, the financial resources they gave away thinking they wouldn’t be needed, the unnecessary fears foisted upon children. As 6pm last Saturday approached, my Facebook stream filled with humorous pokes at the prophecy, and while I laughed at the foibles of humanity I also felt a growing sense of discomfort at the implication that just because we don’t agree with someone else’s beliefs, theirs are wrong. I believe that as parents we are obligated to share our beliefs with our children as a part of sharing ourselves as people, but I believe it is just as important to teach that other people have beliefs that differ from our own. It’s not a black and white world. We owe it to our children to teach them shades of gray.
I was reminded of our human quest to find solace or at least an uneasy acceptance of the shades of gray in our world when I read this Huffington Post essay written by the woman who sold me my beloved scooter. By living our uncertainties and embracing them as best we can I believe that we model shades of gray for our children, showing them that it is okay not to have all the answers and that we can thrive by learning to skillfully surf the ever-shifting tides of change that move beneath our feet.
Of course, this all goes out the window sometimes. Some things are non-negotiable. You may not run into traffic. Do not hold Kitty by her tail. Rocks are not for throwing at the car.
But mostly when I look around me these days I see gray, beautiful gray. I hope I am teaching my kids about being more open to the nuances of gray that live in the spectrum between their opinion and someone else’s. It isn’t easy, though, is it? As parents we want to give our kids a foundation of how we think the world works so that they are equipped to handle whatever they run up against.
I think that’s the best we can hope for. Then it’s time to let go and trust our children can take it from there. My hope is that my children have learned how to be kind, compassionate, curious beings who love themselves and the world they live in. And that they feel comfortable living in the colorful world that exists between black and white.