Get Out of the Lifeboat and Storm the Gates!

I have odd collections of associated images when it comes to the phrase “storm the gates.” For starters, old black-and-white images of soldiers leaping off of ships onto the beaches of Normandy come to mind, their terror and determination coming through in a way only those cameras can capture. Many of those pictures were taken by one war photographer, Robert Capa, that ran onto the battlefield at Normandy armed with nothing but his trusty camera. So, he was shooting his own side, but ironically in a frantic bid to preserve those brave soldiers as they stared down machine gun nests and the rising tide of the Nazi forces waiting beyond that point.

Next, I see grizzled Aragorn and the remaining Fellowship of the Ring riding with all of their might toward the gates of Mordor, their battle cries ringing clear and sonorous off of the Black Gates. Each soldier fully expected to die a painful death, or spend an eternity as a prisoner of Sauron. And yet, they miraculously survive due to the efforts of a few small hobbits exploring a volcano deep within enemy territory.

I bring the idea of storming the gates to your attention, because I think Christians have had a wrong mindset for years when it comes to evangelism and the world in general. The way many Christians talk about dealing with the world and the unchurched is by speaking in terms of a lifeboat. “Come with me if you want to live!” We say in our best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice before handing over a tract on salvation and inviting our friend, or a complete stranger, to church. There is a fear that this whole planet could spontaneously combust at any moment, leaving those outside of the “Jesus Lifeboat” stranded swimming in a river of fire and death.

Now, regardless of your views on the afterlife, this sounds like a retreat mentality, not the mindset God desires of his people. This isn’t Dunkirk, everyone, this is Normandy. We don’t have a lifeboat, except to ferry us to the battlefield!

When Peter made his confession in Caesarea Philippi, Peter stated clearly that, “You (Jesus) are the Messiah[…] You’re the son of the living God!” (KNT) Peter made a bold claim that day, and bolder than you may think. See, “son of god” was a term used by Romans for the emperor. So in a way, Peter is proclaiming that Jesus has more claim to rule the world than Caesar, in a place named after Caesar! And before that, Peter claims that Jesus is the Messiah, not just any anointed king, but the hoped-for ultimate King sent by God, who was God, who represented His people and would free them from sin and exile! Again, Peter in other company would have drawn some sharp gasps from Romans and Jews alike. And Jesus responded with: “and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell won’t overpower it.”

So the gates of hell. Gates, if you know, are part of the defensive structures of a city or fortress designed to let in allies and keep out enemies. Let me say again, gates are defensive structures, not offensive ones. I’m saying it twice because the idea struck me harder than a sack of old hammers. On the cross, Jesus already destroyed the power of sin and death, he rescued his people from oppression and exile. So the great commission is not so much a cruise ship’s warning alarm to fill the life boats – it’s the trumpet call sounded “CHARGE!” We’re not pulling people into life boats and giving up territory for destruction, our marching orders are to bravely move forward taking enemy territory in the name of Jesus Christ. And we take territory through acts of compassion, mercy, justice, charity, kindness, honesty, truth, and perseverance.

Consider what God called the Israelites to do after freeing them from slavery: to march ahead and capture land. So if God has freed us from slavery to sin, our next move is to do the same.

We can’t afford to retreat. As the church retreats from compassion and charity, what casualties are left behind? Who picks up the slack that the church leaves behind?

Be strong and courageous. Do not lose hope, do not be discouraged. The Lord your God is with you, wherever you may go. Joshua 1:9

What can you do to begin playing offense with your compassion and love? What gates do you need to storm in Jesus’ name with justice and generosity? What steps can your family take to begin impacting the community around you?

Photo Credit: “Face in the Surf” by Robert Capa

Marriage and Sex: Why Monogamy?

Call me crazy, because I am for trying to tackle this issue. Why, oh why would I decide to toss my dog into this fight? Well… I’m married, I have a kid on the way, and I currently work with children. I’ve been percolating on this topic for a while and I’ve some thoughts I’d like to jot down.

So here’s a question: have you ever driven someone else’s car? Do you remember how that felt? Every time I drive a different vehicle, I have to spend time adjusting mirrors, driver’s seat, steering wheel, A/C levels, and radio settings before even looking for the gear shift. Then, I have to fight with the steering’s looseness or tightness, how soft the brakes are, and how quickly the car accelerates… or not. I spend the entire drive trying to figure out the car… and heaven forbid it rain or I have to find the headlight switch.

I could very easily make a common sense argument for monogamy based on my car experience. I like my car. It’s comfy. I have the seat right where I want it. I can find every button without looking. I rarely have to adjust anything, and can turn on the ignition and go. I have an idea when something’s wrong and I need to have some maintenance work done. Because I drive the same car every day, the car and I can act like one body. Not to say my wife is in any way like a car. I have a hard time imagining trying to learn to live alongside a different human partner in the same house after six years of marriage. I know where Kristie sits, how towels should be folded, how she likes her steak. I know her habits and I have learned to appreciate everything she is. Personally, I can’t imagine spending another 6 years learning someone completely different. Part of the joy of monogamy is getting to know just how unique and multifaceted my wife is and enjoying the process as we both change and grow together over time.

So, to start into a theological discussion on relationships and monogamy, let’s go back to the beginning. I mean, of course that’s where we start, but I also mean Genesis. So looking at Chapter 2, we get a picture that one of God’s creations was lonely. He had a demanding, but fulfilling job – caring for an amazing piece of property and cultivating the land and animals – but something was missing. The man looked around at all of the animals and realized there wasn’t really anyone up to speed to be his partner, if you will. Sure, animals are great friends and we make stories and movies about that human-animal friendship all the time; however, it doesn’t satisfy the need humans have for community for relationships with other humans.

(Theological side note: we are created in God’s image. As Christians, we have a belief that God is a community in Himself – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – but also a unified God. So to be alone is to deny and to miss out on an essential necessity in the way God created us.)

So what does God do? Well, he creates a woman. He creates a human who is alike enough to be a companion, but different enough to add something new to the man’s understanding.

(Second side note: We usually see an artist’s last work(s) as the culmination of their efforts, a magnum opus, if you will. As such, woman is the crowning jewel in the creation of this universe.)

And yet, in all of this, there is something almost unnatural about selecting one partner “until death do us part.” Many of those who study the mating habits of animals and humans will often reference the fact that humans are one of the few species that continually mates with one partner for an entire lifespan… in theory, at least. Many of the sex-positive tribe (those that believe sex should be discussed and enjoyed in its many facets, without judgment from others) will often use these very natural observances of the world around us as a kind of permission for almost any kind of consensual act of sexual enjoyment between adults. The idea that society is the arbiter of sexual morals is at the same time both distrusted and used as a facilitator. (Read there: “No one can judge me,” but also “everyone else is doing it.”)

For those that claim to follow the Bible which contains Jewish and Christian texts, the concept of something being “natural” isn’t always a point in its favor. Even as we look around and death and violence seem to permeate every aspect of our lives, that natural violence and death are things God has been working to remove. The Mosaic Law creates a social order that cares for the weak and oppressed, and is written in such a way as to prevent and proactively fight against violence. Jesus and his followers often teach the nonviolent route, even to the point of submitting to that natural violence in order to defeat it. I think the same concept applies to sex.

Whether you are reading the Hebrew texts or the Christian ones, God is a God of order, who has a very clear idea of what a society should look like – that society should care for all, especially the weak. Society should give its worship to one God, and care for creation as duly appointed caretakers. Society should honor the family and give special respect to elders and children who often have no one to speak for them. These are not the natural order, but these are aspects of a supernatural order. God’s order goes beyond what nature insists and can even contradict nature’s imperatives.

Consider the first mention of marriage in Genesis 2 where the “man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” The order of words here is important: in this paradigm the man leaves his family to join the woman’s, not the other way around. It’s an interesting thought, and a subversion of what we typically think of relationships between the genders.

Polygamy, though recorded in the Bible, is not endorsed by the authors. Tolerated… maybe, but the stories and laws concerning polygamy more often illustrate the dangers, disruption, and unfairness inherent in a sexual relationship encompassing more than two people. The Patriarchs and their wives suffered because of this. David, Solomon, Esau and many others made the same mistake and found themselves in the natural trouble that arises from following a natural desire to its extreme. Also, polygamy, in ancient times, was often a way for one person to display their wealth and power – which often meant men having power over women who were considered property. Today, those that do practice poly-amorous relationships (romantic relationships involving more than two persons) still wrestle daily with the issues around openness, trust, and communication.

Monogamy is an idea baked into monotheism. Monotheism is, in a way, a covenant between a people and their god – one people, one god. Viewed this way, the relationship between God and his people is a view of marriage – a one-on-one covenant that relies on trust, faithfulness, and selflessness. God’s biggest complaints through the prophets often involve Israel’s unfaithfulness – going after other gods – and forgetting to care for the poor and oppressed. In other words, when the people began to drift back into the “natural” ways of thinking and acting, God sent his messengers to remind them that they had and have a higher, supernatural calling.

And so, we today, when faced with the natural urge to pursue multiple partners (not all are) we must remember that we are called to a supernatural standard that is in place to help create a different kind of society.

How will you discuss these issues with your family? How have you wrestled with the idea of monogamy? What messages do you and your family see in the media concerning relationships?

Choosing Patriotism

I spent some time at our town’s National Cemetery the other day. I have a family member or two buried there, and I realized something. In a direct line on my father’s side, I am the first man in several generations to not have given military service. Standing there in the midst of men and women who had sacrificed so much in order to preserve their idea of freedom from tyranny and oppression across the world weighed heavily on me. The area itself is a tribute to these men and women, and quite possibly one of the most peaceful and aesthetically lovely areas of our town. It struck me that in a place that solemnizes death, there is a celebration of life through the plush grasses and lush trees that surround these memorials. The tension held there is at once solemn and profoundly hopeful.

I have wrestled over the past several years with what it means to be patriotic in today’s America. It seems a confused mishmash of militarism, wearing the colors, and putting America first in all things.

I do appreciate the service of the men and women in our armed service, but I also think that the goal of a military is to one day not need one. Those that fought in the last World War, I’m sure, fought with the hope that wars would end and striving cease and the world would begin to work together. That hope was disappointed as countries began building their stockpiles of every more despairingly destructive weapons that left less and less hope for recovery after the simple metaphorical press of a button.

I wonder about our current trend of isolationism and how it may be a reaction against the past 70 years of interventionism. Maybe we’re burnt out trying to solve all of the world’s problems by ourselves. Perhaps we would like to see other countries step up and begin the hard work of securing peace and freedom for the oppressed parts of the world. We’re starting to see this in Europe and Asia, as America turns inward. We’re seeing Germany and China begin to grow as leaders on the world stage. Something within me, though, feels saddened as I watch this happen.

All things must come to an end, and maybe our leadership has run its course. I do still wonder, though, what do we stand for today? What do you think about when you think of America?

Do you think of wild celebrations that took place around the signing of the Declaration (both before and after?) Do you think of nearly every immigrant’s story (starting with those early colonists) which includes a flight from oppression into new opportunity? Do you think of France’s gift to America which had on it a welcome to the world’s sick, tired, poor, and unwelcome anywhere else? Do you think of the words of the Constitution which are designed to prevent oppression and tyranny? Do you think of a nation still clinging desperately to the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while dealing with the often disappointing present?

What would Walt Whitman write today if he were to re-write “I Hear America Singing?” Who would he include? What songs and sounds would he hear?

The words of the Declaration of Independence circulate around this time of year, but the last phrase, I almost never hear: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Sure, the American leaders declared their independence of British rule, but declared their dependence on God, and on one another.

Look around this weekend. Really notice the people who walk past you, who serve you, whom you serve, and who drive alongside you. See them as American, as someone on whom you depend, and who depends on you. This great democratic experiment only succeeds if we work together and recognize our fellow Americans as human, as God’s children, and as people who are in this together with us.

How do you celebrate this yearly holiday of Independence Day? What does patriotism mean to you? How does your America benefit everyone living in this nation? How do you instill the ancient American values of charity, hospitality, determination, and hope to your children?

Opening a Fresh Wound

I was faced recently with a terrifying proposition a week or so ago. I have been wrestling with issues dealing with race. I think it is important to deal with them and air them out to begin dismantling the power of racism. But what if it’s not so easy?

What if racism is so ingrained that our brains act out those concepts without our being aware of them? What if our words and speech patterns are polite, gentle, compassionate, but our body language shows fear, apprehension, or even aggression? What message are we sending? What thoughts flow through our minds without us even realizing it?

The podcast Invisibilia brought these idea to my attention, daring me to begin sifting through my own mind. They warn that this kind of self-examination can be difficult, emotionally draining. So why do I bring it up in the first place?

I bring it up because I was faced with a terrifying proposition… oh, you thought I had already gotten to it? No. The idea that shocked me into a truly self-reflective mode was this question: “When we read scripture, which characters or people do we relate to?” For my whole life I had assumed that I should read myself as the Israelites, or the Jews in the New Testament – claiming some kinship with the fathers of my faith. But then the next question arises, “What is one of the defining characteristics of that people?” The answer is – they were almost never in power and almost constantly assailed and oppressed. The only time ancient Israel had a large, unified empire was right after David and through Solomon’s reign. Leading up to, and following, the Israelites seemed to be in constant apprehension of the next great world power that would attack or threaten or cajole them. The Jews post-exile hadn’t fared much better, gaining a modicum of power following their successful revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes and his Greek empire, only to later fall under the thumb of the Roman Empire, noted for its cruel efficiency.

So the dangling question is… “Who do I relate to?” Have I experienced the oppression, the fear, the wandering of the Israelite? Have I experienced the fear, anguish, longing, and disenfranchisement of the Jewish exile or Jew under Rome? I don’t know that I have… I think I would actually relate more to the Roman, the Greek, the Babylonian, the Assyrian. Suddenly I find myself on the side of a Jonah’s call to repentance to the Assyrian capital of Ninevah. I find myself in the position of Cornelius, faced not with an opportunity to climb to the heights of power, but a call to join with those who hunger and thirst for God’s justice (righteousness), with those who mourn, with the poor in spirit, with the peacemakers, with the persecuted.

Finding Jesus in Wonder Woman

You may be thinking, “What does a Greek-based, pantheon-touting, superhero film have to do with Jesus?” And that would be a fair thought. But there is something to the idea of taking every thought captive and submitting it to Christ. And, really, if we want to help our kids, they need to learn to see God’s Big Story wherever they can. Sure, there are going to be some cultural moments that are born entirely from the muck and mire with little or nothing to redeem them, but these are rarer than we think. Take Wonder Woman, DCs latest film endeavor, for instance.

The following paragraphs contain spoilers galore, so continue at your own peril.

The story involves the child of a god who is sent into the world of “man” in order to provide a positive answer to the problem of evil and suffering at the hands of an enemy. The world doesn’t deserve this hero, but this hero must find a way to defeat the enemy, even at great cost to that hero. Sound familiar? It should.

Diana learns over the course of the film that she is a child of Zeus, who embued her with the ability to defeat the enemy of the Olympian gods and humanity – Ares, the god of war. Ares’ motivation is to prove just how evil humanity is, not by outright forcing people to make war or initiate cruelty, but by whispering ideas, inspirations, encouragements toward greater acts of violence. Before Diana leaves Themiscyra, her mother states outright, “Mankind doesn’t deserve you.” And, to all intents and purposes, her mother is right.

Diana encounters the effects of war on both soldiers and civilians and becomes indignant. She puts herself at risk multiple times in order to break the siege of a still-inhabited village. WWI still stands as one of the more gruesome and terrible wars of history, due to the clash of old and new warfare that no party involved knew how to handle, and those dark realities shock Diana. Diana discovers that her “team” is a group of outsiders, liars, murderers, smugglers, and thieves who use their skills to help her reach her destination.

Near the climax of the film, when Ares’ identity has been revealed, Diana finds herself reeling upon discovering that Ares’ hasn’t forced humanity into fighting, but has just encouraged their inner darkness. Diana up to this point has believed firmly in the inherent goodness of humanity, but her faith is shaken. One conversation with Steve has him saying, “We need you, Diana. No, we don’t deserve you, but we can save millions of people if you stay.” Diana ends up losing the man she loves as he sacrifices himself to destroy a weapon that could annihilate London. Diana defeats Ares in a rather flashy showdown that ends with some intense lightning bolts being thrown about – but seeing as Diana is Zeus’s daughter, lightning isn’t much of a problem.

This movie lends itself well to finding God’s Big Story. Jesus is God’s son, sent to a world that didn’t deserve him, on a mission to defeat an enemy that works through deception, lies, and whispers. Jesus, like Diana, is concerned with the plight of humanity, the poor, the oppressed, the outsiders, even his enemies. True humanity, as God created it, is inherently good – but that humanity has been corrupted by violence and selfishness, but Jesus’ work frees humanity from the slavery to and oppression of sin and death. And like the climactic scene in Wonder Woman, the moment the hero seems completely overpowered is the moment the victory is won which bring Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection to mind.

In so many ways I have praised this movie for its triumphs. I also understand it isn’t a perfect movie either, and have chided it for a few issues here or there. But the overarching plot does resonate with Jesus’ story. And, really, we should be looking for God’s Big Story in whatever we see. We spend so much time and energy looking for the negative, the evil, and the critical – why not spend that time and energy looking for whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable?

How can you help train your kids to find Jesus’ story in the media you view? What questions can you ask to help your child think critically about what they are watching, reading, or playing?

Wonder Woman: “More than we deserve”

I finally saw Wonder Woman. Gathering my thoughts on this one might take a little while, so join me on a journey of discovery as we sort things out together. (Please don’t leave, that last sentence was a rhetorical device – I mean, I’m not a DC movie, after all.)

Cheap jokes aside, DC has finally crafted a solid film that keeps pace, maintains a consistent logic, gives characters fair amounts of screen time, and tends to favor the underdog in a way the previous DC films have been less than eager to. Wonder Woman contains good writing, great acting, and a diversity of cast that makes for a depth of world that has been missing in previous films.

So let’s start with the obvious – this is a female led production directed by Patty Jenkins, and acted by Gal Gidot. Both shine in their respective roles, taking risks by showing vulnerability and strength in just the right ratios to create realistic characters, while managing to lean into the inherent campiness of the superhero genre for the first time in a DC movie. (Suicide Squad doesn’t count, it lacked the joy that I think campiness should bring.) The first twenty minutes, at least, are entirely centered on women – of all ages and colors. The women are shown in multiple roles: from teachers, to warriors, to queens, to senators, to homemakers, and beyond. In such a short amount of time, Jenkins manages to truly show off the gamut of women’s roles – in a society run and inhabited by only women. (Can I just note, cynically, that it seems a little sad to need an island populated entirely by women in order to show off that diversity? I’m looking at you nearly every other major film.) Gal Gidot proves herself an immensely skilled actor being able to portray power and naivety in a way that holds both in tension but never drops either in favor of the other.

Which brings me to the writing. Diana’s (aka Wonder Woman) character faces the moral dilemma of choosing to see the good in humanity or to focus on the darkness in humanity’s heart. Diana’s eternal optimism and desire to save as many as possible is a rare treat in a DC film where destruction has been prioritized over the whole “superheroes are supposed to save people” idea. Diana is entirely focused on protecting the innocent lives caught up in the brutal realities of the WWI Western Front’s “meat grinder.” (You can thank Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast for that description.) Diana has several wonderful moments where she has the opportunity to speak out and call those in authority out on their selfishness, their privilege, and misuse of power. She is also the least sexualized superheroine currently in film. Her attractiveness may be part of the package, but it certainly has little to do with her character – she is first and foremost a woman on a mission.

As far as plot goes, my wife and I were both a little on the disappointed side that many of the major plot points seemed lifted directly from Captain America: The First Avenger. There were some truly unique moments though including Diana’s charge through no man’s land, Diana exploring her powers for the first time, and Diana’s relationship with her mother and aunt. There was an interesting twist involving several characters and actors as to who the real villain was – and I was pleasantly thrown off.

I had few real issues with this film. One, the shaky camera trend probably needs to go away for a few years and then come back as a piece of film vocabulary for when things really are chaotic in a character’s perspective. There was a couple of character details that seemed like they should have gone somewhere, but were left dangling. One, in particular, involved the Scottish character, Charlie, and his ability to perform on the battlefield which was mentioned once and then never showed up again.

One moment still has me scratching my head. In one scene near the end, a large explosion goes off near two main characters and the sound goes dead as if the characters’ have been temporarily deafened. We can’t hear what either character is saying very well, but a few minutes later the character recalls what was said in perfect clarity. So my question is, were we, as the audience, “deafened” by the explosion or were the characters? If the audience was, why bring up the conversation again? If the character was, how did they then recall it perfectly later? I do realize, that if this is my biggest complaint with the film, it did most everything else very well.

Ok, for the troublesome stuff. Cursing was kept to a minimum. I think I only heard a few at most – and seeing as the setting was World War I, it seemed rather mild. There are some nasty wounds shown and scenes of war where Diana finds herself faced with the horror of war and its effects on the soldiers and civilians, for example a shot that includes a soldier lying on the battlefield crying in pain and missing half of a leg. There are some scenes of drinking, in a pub, and after a victory, but again it feels more like setting the scene than glorifying the drinking. As far as sexual content, there are some awkward exchanges between Diana and Steve (the main love interest) but nothing is shown past a kiss. The bisexual nature of the Amazons is also more of subtext and allusion rather than stated out right. I can only think of two very short moments where it even arose. If you are not keen on violence, then maybe reconsider going to see a film set in WWI – otherwise the violence is pretty acrobatic and relatively bloodless.

The soundtrack is appropriate, but didn’t really stand out to me. The only track that sticks out is the current Wonder Woman theme that, as my wife pointed out, uses an electric cello to achieve its unique sound.

So I guess the real question is, would I take my daughter to see this movie? Well, technically, I did – she’s still in my wife’s tummy. Yes. When my daughter hits the preteen age, I think I would like her to see a movie that includes a strong, non-sexualized, vulnerable, opinionated, capable, intelligent woman as its lead character. DC finally pulled out a good film that has a character that I wouldn’t mind my daughter looking up to.

Darn These Feelings!

I recently watched a ballet performance. I do not understand it. Ballet, to me, is like listening to someone tell a story in a language I don’t even recognize, let alone understand. I have not studied the vocabulary of dance to know what the performer is trying to instill or draw from me. As an audience member, I will be honest with my ballet friends and say, I will clap and cheer, but that applause will come from a place of profound appreciation of the physicality and flexibility it takes to perform at a high level of skill in the ballet world. I can appreciate the hours of practice, hard work, memorization, and rehearsal it took to put that dance on the stage. But please, at this point in my life, do not ask me what it meant or how I felt… because I don’t even know.

This experience reminded me of an episode of Invisibilia that I listened to recently. (Yes, you’re all going to be pulled into another of my podcast ventures again.) This episode was on emotions. One of the researchers interviewed in the course of the show presented her findings that emotions are not innate, but taught. That emotions are “concepts” – ┬áideas that our brain uses to explain what’s going on inside of our body when introduced to something around us in the world. She referenced the fact that there are cultures and societies in the world that have markedly different emotions and reactions from one another to similar experiences. Because these “concepts” of emotions are learned, what we experience inside our bodies can differ dramatically from someone else, but it also means that emotions may be much more under our control than we may have thought previously.

When we have words and concepts to understand the world around us, and inside us, we can respond better to what’s going on in the world. A trained musician understands the language of music and can hear what the composer is trying to convey through the piece being played. A professional dancer can watch and feel what a dancer is communicating through their body and movements. A writer can see the subtle allusions and puns hidden throughout a piece of literature. And someone who has been raised to understand emotions and how to respond to them is better able to control themselves in emotional situations. In other words, to understand something, we have to have a vocabulary to explain it. That vocabulary may be actual words, but it may be a collection of experiences as well – such as dance, music, and even food. My favorite example of this was pointed out in the Cracked Podcast in several episodes: the Greeks had no word for the color blue, which meant they probably didn’t see blue – their description of the sea was often “wine colored.” On the other hand, some Eastern European languages have multiple commonly used words for the color blue linked to different shades, and so they, on average, are able to see more shades of blue than other groups. With the “concept” comes better understanding and the ability to see, sometimes literally, the world better.

I understand that emotions have become, in the last few decades or possibly the last century, something of a taboo subject for society, especially for men. Despite this, our historical and literary record is full of men and women who are strong, capable human beings who understood emotion and were able to show that emotion even in positions of leadership. I wonder how children today view emotions or if they receive training at home in how to handle them?

Do they hear that it’s normal to be angry, but that we should not lash out because of it? Do they understand that sadness, grief, and joy all may warrant tears, and how to work through loss or gain? Do children hear about shame, guilt, conviction, and how each of those differ? Do children understand the difference between happiness and contentment? Do children know what to do with boredom and excitement? What about fear?

Without training in emotions and how to develop healthy relationships with them, we cannot expect children to be able to handle stressful scenarios later in life with as much grace and resilience. A stoic personality may be able to cope for a while, but trauma has a way of destroying whatever stoicism a person may have.

What kinds of conversations do you have at home about emotion? How do you model emotions and reactions to your family? How do you explain emotions when they happen and how to navigate through emotional moments?