If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice its knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully. — Matthew Fox, theologian
IN SUNDAY’S SESSION…
We reflected on Unitarian Universalism’s celebration of each individual—imperfections and all. We taught that children need not be “perfect” to be loved, respected, and appreciated for their own unique gifts. A tale from India , “The Water Bearer’s Garden,” demonstrated that our very flaws can have corresponding gifts. Children learned about scientific “accidents” that resulted in inventions we enjoy today such as the Slinky and floating Ivory soap. The group may have tasted a great chocolate cake made with a surprise ingredient (tomatoes); try this recipe at home.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about…
What do you perceive as your flaws? In what way could they be seen or experienced as gifts?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A FAMILY ADVENTURE
A chocolate cake made with tomato or mayonnaise. A fruit smoothie including carrot juice or peanut butter. Look for and make a tasty recipe that uses an unlikely ingredient that, on its own, would not appeal to your child. Talk about how the recipe gives the unlikely ingredient a way to share its special gifts.
A FAMILY GAME
Turn your imperfections into blessings. Allow each family member to suggest their own “flaw” for the others to help them re-frame as a gift. For example, someone who is often told they are “annoying” may also be very funny or be able to cheer someone up when doing the very same behaviors. Someone who gives family members too many instructions—”bossy”—may also be caring, knowledgeable, or responsible. Someone whose messy room is legendary is likely also to be easygoing or creative.
Parents who wonder if they expect too much “perfection” from their children may like to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel (New York: Penguin, 2001). Mogel is a clinical psychologist who found, in Jewish tradition, meaningful guidance for contemporary parenting. In a 2006 article about her, the New York Times Magazine says:
There is a Hasidic saying that Mogel quotes, ‘If your child has a talent to be a baker, don’t ask him to be a doctor.’ By definition, most children cannot be at the top of the class; value their talents in whatever realm you find them. ‘When we ignore a child’s intrinsic strengths in an effort to push [them] toward our notion of extraordinary achievement, we are undermining God’s plan,’ Mogel writes.