This is Part Two of my annesplaining about how to actually support the parents of theybies. Picking up where we left off (yesterday we made it all the way through the first one!), the second one is Intention:
Intention matters. People would rather know that you are trying to use the correct words in relation to them and their children than remove yourself from their community because you are afraid to make a mistake or feel uncomfortable. A good disclaimer is this: “I really respect your choice around using gender-neutral pronouns for __________. I’m not used to using these pronouns so I may sometimes make mistakes, but I am dedicated to learning this new way, and I want to stay close to your family.”
That single paragraph, for me, articulates the heart of most progressivism. In the new order of things, it is more important to let other people know that you have the right kinds of beliefs and are “trying” to have the right kind of behaviors than to actually possess them. The internal bend towards true goodness is less important than having the outward appearance of trying. This is a far distant place from where you, the Christian, ought to be living. Intention isn’t enough for the Christian. It must be that you turn to and trust Jesus with all the parts of you that you can muster. You can’t just intend to do good. The road to hell, as we are daily seeing, is paved with all the intentions. Rather, you must see that you cannot do good and put your whole trust in the one who is, in himself, good. Moreover, one thing that can have no quarter with goodness, is actual lying. Lying to other people is not a respectful thing to do.
Third, we come to the most dreadful one of all, I think. Education. That’s right my dears, it is not enough just to remember that it is about liberation, it is not enough to have good intentions, you must also take upon yourself the reeducation of the whole population because the parents of theybies are having to do it almost singlehandedly. Be a good ally. Whenever you see someone about to miss-pronoun a baby, leap in and patiently ‘splain that that is not ok.
All of the parents raising theybies I spoke with expressed to me that spend a lot of time and energy educating their families and extended communities. They are essentially taking on the work of retraining people’s deeply internalized expectations of gender, one community at a time. Their children are at the forefront of this fight. It’s a lot for them to carry on their shoulders.
This is so tragic, really. It is appalling that babies are on the forefront of this cultural insanity. They should not be carrying the confusion of their parents anywhere, and yet they are. Honestly, if you come across a family trying to live this way, I would implore you to really pray for them, truly, and befriend them. Try to meet their temporal needs such as they are, but for the sake of the baby, don’t lie to them about anything. Tell them about Jesus. Don’t accept such a tragically broken view of what it means to be human. Ask them to read the bible along with you. Invite them to church. Be brave—for the sake of the baby.
Fourth we come to something essential for everyone–Examine Yourself:
For those of us who have intense emotional reactions to people using gender-neutral words for their kids, we need to ask ourselves: what happened to us in our childhood that makes us have such a strong reaction to their choices? Why do I feel so strongly that children belong in one of two boxes? Anywhere on the gender spectrum you felt as a child was totally, completely perfect.
This is rich. In the same moment the writer of this piece—and everyone along for the ride—insists that gender is literally nothing and everything at the same time. Children should not be forced to think about this, she says, and I absolutely agree. When you were a little kid running around you just were. However you felt, it didn’t matter. You were a child. If you wanted to climb a tree, you did. If you wanted to play with dolls, you did. You probably got to play outside, too, and ride a bike and go to school without the looming mental illness of a culture that, probably because it is so committed to the slaughter of most of its young, has to over-protect and hassle the ones who make it into the daylight. If you are a woman, you are a woman. It doesn’t really matter how you feel. You don’t need a lot of products to “feel” like a woman. You are a woman. If you are very tall and like videogames and whatever, and kickboxing, that doesn’t make you into a man. It is the gender-craziness that has so fixed categories into externals and social-signaling that actual people who are the things themselves then begin to wonder if they are not those things. I don’t accept this. Don’t tell me that I have to feel and act a certain way in order to be something. I feel and act certain ways because I already am that way.
And finally, we have that trite, easy trope, Respect Everyone:
Parenting is the hardest job on the planet, and all parents deserve love and a pat on the back. (A massage would be nice, too.) Remember that each parent is making the best decisions they can for their children, and respect their choices.
Here’s the thing, though. Parenting is actually not that hard. The fact that it is one of the things that humans have done for literally millennia without too much trouble should indicate that it is not that hard. I’m really tired of the whole This Is The Hardest Thing Ever meme. It does become hard for three unnecessary reasons. Parenting is hard if you insist on foisting yourself onto your child, to fashion and shape your child into an image of yourself. It is also hard if you refuse to set sane boundaries for your child and then win every single little war that the little sucker wages against those boundaries. And it is hard if you don’t figure out the sleeping thing. Children need sleep and for some reason, this does seem to be the hardest thing in the world. This used to be intuitive for most of humanity, but no longer for most young mothers. So anyway, I’m here to help, and so are other wise people, if your baby doesn’t sleep. It can be tricky. But once your baby sleeps, almost everything else falls into place.
You know what is hard? Life in general. If you expect life in general to be easy peasy, parenting will be hard for you. And if you think that you are the center of your own universe, parenting will be the apocalypse, because the clash between you and the baby will be epic.
In conclusion, I would like to just go back to the first thing you were supposed to do to support the parents of theybies, the idea that parents want children to grow up to be the “truest versions of themselves.” This is a very new idea and if you are a young parent who has imbibed this idea without too much self-examination, I would implore you to stop and think about it a little bit. The fact is, as a human person, your baby cannot be “true” on his or her own. Your baby is born a little liar, as we all are. Your baby needs the Light of the World, The Good Shepherd, The True Bread that Comes Down from Heaven, the Living Water, the Way, the Truth, and the Life Himself to come and rescue him or her from him or herself. Opening the way for this great salvation is your single most important task as a parent. If you hinder your child from seeing and loving Jesus, you are in an eternal world of hurt. You might as well take a millstone, tie it around your “intentional parenting” and fling yourself into the sea. Jesus loves the babies, all of them, whoever they are. Do not be intimidated by the confusion of the lost. “They” all need Jesus.