Raising My Daughter in a Broken World

When I first set out six­teen or so years ago pub­lish­ing con­tent online, I did so as a naïve child, using what lit­tle of a home­page I could build to unite my chat room friends, to social­ize with a few local friends via guest­books, and to share a lit­tle bit about my interests.

The skills I picked up would soon be put to use in force when I became a Chris­t­ian in the fall of 2001. I wast­ed no time in putting togeth­er web­site after web­site to spread the gospel of the con­ser­v­a­tive Bap­tist church of which I had become a member.

What began as large­ly sta­t­ic web­sites would blos­som in time to blogs, mes­sage boards, and more, small­er projects than I care to try to count.

Much of what I wrote about was very abstract; I dealt with doc­trine and the­ol­o­gy, and I treat­ed the world as if it were black and white — this is good, that is bad.

There was nev­er a weight to my life, and I remained com­fort­able judg­ing the world from behind my screen, dis­con­nect­ed from it all.

Flash foward. 

Near­ly five years ago, my daugh­ter was born, and though I’ve pub­lished on aver­age of about fif­teen to twen­ty posts per year since then, most of those posts come from the first year or two.

They were, despite no longer being writ­ten “in ser­vice to the King,” very much ide­al­is­tic, deal­ing with the truth­ful­ness of the Bible, the fail­ings of Chris­tian­i­ty, and so on.

As the years passed, increas­ing­ly few­er of my friends seemed con­cerned about ide­olo­gies. Gone were the debates I had grown accus­tomed to — did Christ die for all or only the elect? when should a per­son be bap­tized? how should a church be gov­erned? etc. — hav­ing been replaced by folks with eyes turned sec­u­lar­ly, toward the world around them.

Naïve me was not pre­pared for that world. A world where racism is very much alive. Where black peo­ple can be mur­dered by those sworn to serve and pro­tect. Where rape vic­tims watch as their assaulters go free.

What was once a world I could hand-wave away with some pass­ing ref­er­ence to the fall of mankind, con­tent in the hope that was offered in Jesus Christ, had become a world in which very real peo­ple were griev­ous­ly attack­ing each oth­er, often for no good rea­son at all.

What was once a world I had absolute­ly no wor­ries toward, being a “child of the King,” has become a world in which my own child must live.

She’s four years old, but folks — includ­ing mem­bers of her own fam­i­ly — are already push­ing her into a sex­u­al iden­ti­ty and con­cepts like boyfriend/girlfriend when she’s still not even con­sis­tent­ly hold­ing a pen­cil properly.

She’s four year old, but she’s around peo­ple who will tell lit­tle boys “not to be a girl” because they are afraid to do some­thing; is my daugh­ter some­thing less because she is a girl? That’s the mes­sage that gives to lit­tle boys, and though it may not affect them much now, it’s part of a cul­ture which allows chil­dren to grow up think­ing “mas­culin­i­ty” is good and that “macho” things are strong and inter­est­ing while “fem­i­nin­i­ty” is weak­ness and vapid­i­ty and “basic.”

She’s four years old, and she is my bea­con of a hope in a world that seems to be crum­bling around me. I admit, it pret­ty much has been for a good long while, but social media made it all “real,” it yanked me away from the abstract and opened my eyes to a world in which injus­tice was busi­ness as usual.

I’m grate­ful that I don’t real­ly have to explain Fer­gu­son or Char­lotte or Don­ald Trump to her. Not yet anyway.

I have a win­dow — a very small, ever-shrink­ing win­dow — in which I can ensure that the human­is­tic val­ues that our world so des­per­ate­ly needs are instilled into her.

She’s kind. She’s sen­si­tive. She loves bugs! She looks for­ward to vot­ing with me every chance I have to go vote. And she’s bash­ful, nev­er fear­ful, of oth­er people.

Not bad so far, though I can always be bet­ter. I’d love to hear how you’re prepar­ing your chil­dren for a future in a poten­tial­ly very ugly world. (And if you’re Amer­i­can, I hope that part of how you’re prepar­ing the way for your chil­dren is by vot­ing for Hillary Clin­ton in a few weeks!) Please take a moment to share your meth­ods and ideas below.

While my atten­tion has very much been toward her, I still share my thoughts on cur­rent events — and even still some more abstract top­ics — on Face­book, where I can dump some words and hit pub­lish quick­ly, I’ve not yet ful­ly aban­doned this site.

There’s more to come, I assure you. Good things, I hope.

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Rick Beckman