Friday, March 20, 2015

Being A Benevolent Despot (Pastor Mom Devotion #2)

I have experienced nothing worse than being at the mercy of someone who abuses their position of power. I guess you could interpret every evil committed by humans as some kind of an abuse of power. But in some cases there is mutual negotiation because the power dynamics are relatively equal. Other times, you are helpless. And having no choice but to suffer the consequences of someone else's selfishness, laziness, denial of reality, irrational fears, and/or vindictiveness is unspeakably infuriating (to me, at least).

In such situations, I have always told myself that the pain I am suffering is teaching me never to do that kind of thing to others when I am the one in a superior position. And oh my gosh, being a parent puts you in the ultimate position of power and authority over someone--especially at the beginning, when your child is completely helpless. So here I am with the opportunity to do as I have vowed in the past and be a benevolent despot.

It's very easy to do right now; the Teacher is three months old today and it feels very natural to rush to meet her need every time she cries. I'm sure that's what Mother Nature intended by making us perceive babies as adorably pathetic.

They say you can't spoil a baby this young--it's only after they've figured out cause-and-effect (yes, by dropping a spoon for you to pick up seven thousand times) that children realize they can manipulate you into giving them things they don't really need.

I wonder, though: is it really the case that children ask for things they don't need at all? I suspect not. Which is not to say that I'm planning to give my children chocolate cake for breakfast or buy them the latest video game as soon as it comes out. But in a sense, there must always be a real and valid need behind any request (whether from a child or an adult), or else they never would have asked for something. The emptiness and lack is there; they just may not have properly identified something that can fill it. I think part of being a benevolent despot is to recognize that; and not to be dismissive of requests that seem unreasonable or inappropriate.

Thankfully, the Teacher is only very gradually easing me into the challenge of learning to exercise authority judiciously.

My prayer for this week: Thank you, God, that I am blessed with the resources to provide for all of my baby's needs. You know it makes me nervous having someone who depends on me so completely, but I can rest my heart, trusting that you are taking care of me so that I can take care of her. Grant me wisdom as the baby becomes more independent so that I may still respond with compassion and understanding even when I have to tell her "no." In the name of Christ, in whom all things find their "yes" ... Amen.

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