Don't Be a Ravioli Parent
Daniel DarlingDaniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). For five years, Dan served as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including Teen People of the Bible, Crash Course, iFaith, Real, and his latest, Activist Faith. He is a weekly contributor to Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Journal. His work has been featured in evangelical publications such as Relevant Magazine, Homelife, Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. He has guest-posted on leading blogs such as Michael Hyatt, The Gospel Coalition, OnFaith (Washington Post), and others. He is a contributing writer for many publications including Stand Firm, Enrichment Journal and others. Dan’s op-eds have appeared in Washington Posts’ On Faith, CNN.com's Belief Blog, and other newspapers and opinion sites. He is a featured blogger for Crosswalk.com, Churchleaders.com and Believe.com, Covenant Eyes, G92, and others. Publisher's Weekly called his writing style "substantive and punchy." Dan is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on TV and radio outlets across the country, including CNN, 100 Huntley Street, Moody Broadcasting Network, Harvest Television, The Sandy Rios Show, American Family Radio, the Salem Radio Network, and a host of other local and national Christian media. He holds a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College and is pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area. Daniel is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency
- 2011 Oct 17
As a kid, I loved eating ravioli, and as an adult I still like eating it. It's one of my favorite meals. But as a dad, ravioli has become my enemy. Why? Because it may be the single messiest meal for kids. You are pretty much guaranteed that if you give your sweet little infant a bowl of ravioli, they will end up with an epic sauce and noodle disaster.
So I hate ravioli. My wife, however, doesn't seem to be so bothered by it. Every once in a while she will say to me, "Dan, should we have ravioli for dinner tonight?" I always look at her funny when she says this, as if she said, "Hey, how about we go ahead and sign ourselves up for an extra hour of dinner cleanup? Wouldn't that be fun?"
Angela and I often see things like ravioli differently. I choose the path of least resistance. She isn't bothered by the potential disaster that is ravioli. I thought of this as I consider the job of parenting. I wonder if the avoid-ravioli approach is our default approach with our kids. We choose the path of least resistance.
Our tendency as parents is to shelter our children. We want to create a safe environment so they don't mess anything up, so they don't get hurt. So we work hard to keep all negative influences out of their lives. We avoid the ravioli.
Most of the time this is good, because we as parents should guard our children, we should watch over them, we should filter their influences. But that is not our only job. It is also our task to train them up to live out their faith in a sin-soaked world. I wonder if we often keep our kids from any hint of risk or danger at their detriment. We keep the ravioli from them because we don't want to do the hard work of cleaning it up. We fear the influences with our teens, so we so shelter them from any friends at all. We don't like the youth leader's music or movie styles so we keep them from youth group. We worry about the media, so we keep any and all media from their consumption.
The problem with this approach is that our children can grow up without being equipped to live in this world and bring light to darkness. I'm not saying we should have no rules or standards. And every home draws the lines a bit differently.
However, I think part of our desire to hang on tight to our children is that we don't want to see them ever experience hurt. We don't want them to live with any consequences of risk. In doing so, we rob them of the lessons learned in brokenness. And by choosing the path of least resistance, in sparing ourselves from having to deal with the fallout of their choices, we think tightening things up, hanging on, sheltering will help them avoid the pitfalls of life.
But sometimes our kids need to eat ravioli, to get it all up in their hair and all over the high-chair and on the floor. They need to make a royal mess of themselves, so they can see their own brokenness, their own need for a Savior, and can learn the lesson of failure.