My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Dread Parent Roberts

When parenting, sometimes it seems that there are two people inside of us, fighting for control. Using the brilliant archetypes of The Princess Bride, we’ll call one “the Parent Buttercup,” and one “the Dread Parent Roberts.” ‘Buttercup’ is our unconditional patient love, and the ‘Dread Parent Roberts’ is our authoritarian need for control, which lashes out when our boundaries are crossed. ‘Buttercup’ is that sensitive part of us that gets pushed around and bullied by our children’s irrational self-centered behavior. The ‘Dread Parent Roberts’ is the part of us that gets calloused and tough as a matter of sheer survival. Sometimes ‘Buttercup’ gets captured by bandits or even the ‘Dread Parent Roberts’ himself. Sometimes the ‘Dread Parent Roberts’ gets so angry that he forgets that he is face to face with the ones he loves the most. I image a conversation between them (inside of me) going something like this:

Parent Buttercup: “I know who you are. Your cruelty reveals everything. You’re the Dread Parent Roberts, admit it!”

The Dread Parent Roberts: “With pride! What can I do for you?”

Parent Buttercup: “You can die slowly, cut into a thousand pieces.”

The Dread Parent Roberts: “Hardly complimentary, Your Highness. Why loose your venom on me?”

Parent Buttercup: “You killed my love.”

The Dread Parent Roberts: “It’s possible, I kill a lot of things. What was this ‘love’ of yours?”

Parent Buttercup: “My ability to love my children no matter how impossible they are. But when the kids are behaving badly your ship attacked, and the Dread Parent Roberts never takes prisoners!”

The Dread Parent Roberts: “I can’t afford to make exceptions. I mean once word leaks out that a parent has gone soft, children begin to disobey, and it’s nothing but work, work, work all the time!”

Parent Buttercup: “You mock my pain!”

The Dread Parent Roberts: “Parenting is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Often times I feel like the Dread Parent Roberts has kidnapped my love. Often times I believe what he tells me; that parenting is pain. It may be that the Buttercup in me needs to push the Dread Parent Roberts down the hill. And strangely enough, the Dread Parent Roberts is really just a twisted form of the Parent Wesley, who is supposed to be married to the Parent Buttercup. We do need something that will protect our love for our children; something that looks at the Fire Swamp of parenting and says, “The trees are actually quite lovely.” As parents, there is a strange and adventuresome relationship between love and authority is us. Love without authority is like a princess captured by bandits. Not a very effective parent. Authority without love is like a cruel pirate. Not a very compassionate parent. We need both in the proper balance; the proper marriage. But getting to that marriage is often harder than we first think. Sometimes we have to go through periods of internal fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases and escapes. Sometimes it seems inconceivable that we could find peace and joy in parenting. But in the end there is the hope of getting to the true love and miracle of that wonderful relationship between a parent and child. And ultimately we need to remember to always look to our Divine Parent as a model, and ask for His help. And when we do, He’ll say, “As you wish.”

- Solomon Keal