Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were wise, simple, and elegant. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all."
All parents—and especially egalitarian parents—should talk to their kids about boundaries, consent, bodies, shame, double standards, peer pressure, and sexism in school. Have you had these conversations with your kids yet?
This passage reminds me of my experience serving in a leadership position at a church several years ago. I had four children, the youngest of which was a three year-old. Like most toddlers, he wanted to be close to Momma whenever possible. Occasionally, he even managed to escape undetected out of kid’s church between services to look for me. When he found me, he did not want to let go! He didn’t make a scene; he just wanted to be close.
When we read an obituary in the newspaper, we see the visible side of a person’s life — his or her church or organization memberships and accomplishments in life. What we don’t read, however, is how the person touched others in some special way. I’d like to share how Mom spiritually touched the lives of my sister Wendy and me.
I saw a movie this week that made me think about motherhood and the transition it requires when done well. The Meddler depicts the struggle to establish appropriate boundaries between a mother, played by Susan Sarandon, and her young adult daughter, played by Rose Byrne.
The struggles of Christian women with sexuality, food, and their bodies reflect the Church’s historic ambivalence towards the body—particularly the female body. The embodiment of God in the Incarnation, Jesus’ embrace of lepers, prostitutes, and women, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection establish a radical foundation of body affirmation. Yet the history of the Church demonstrates a decidedly negative view of the body and sexuality.