Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent by David Spangler
This book articulated a very beautiful philosophy of parenting. With simple, memorable images and stories, Spangler described how he and his wife have managed to find the balance that’s right for their family. The book is not so much religious as spiritual, focusing on fostering deep, loving connection between the family members. To the extent that I go in for this kind of stuff, I found it empowering, but anyone who doesn’t like slightly New Age-y rhetoric might find it alienating.
My baby is at a particularly adorable age where he fits perfectly in my lap, so of course my favorite image of Spangler’s was the idea of a parent’s role as simply being a lap, an open, welcoming place for the child to come for comfort and peace. It’s about being accessible to the child, being there for him. Of course, in order to have a lap, you have to slow down, sit, and wait for the child to come to you.
In some ways, reading this little book made me feel kind of inadequate as a parent, for all the reasons cited in this article about the new mindfulness trend in parenting. It’s hard to be all zen and faith-filled and joyful, especially when you’re exhausted. Spangler discussed his failures and struggles in addition to his family’s picture-perfect moments, though, so I have to own that feeling of inadequacy and frustration rather than blaming it on his obnoxiousness, because he’s not obnoxious at all.
(And can I say how refreshing it is to read about parenting from a father’s point of view? Especially a book that’s all about creating enduring relationships in the family, rather than a more concrete, scientific topic like sleep or feeding. I think this is the first parenting book I’ve read by a man who’s not a pediatrician.)