Are You a Pioneer Parent? Part One
Please join me in welcoming author Mary DeMuth, who’s taking a whirlwind blog tour talking about her latest book, “Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide for Pioneer Parents.” We conducted this interview via Skypes instant messaging service, with Mary in France and me here in Kansas City, pretending like I have a CLUE how to IM. Hope you enjoy the book banter as much as Mary and I did!
Katy: Mary, Mary? Are you there?
Katy: You should have heard me gasp when I saw your “oui”! I’m actually IMing!
Mary: It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Katy: Shock and awe! You know what attempting to learn all this new technology reminds me of? When you come home from the hospital with your first new baby…
Mary: And you have to sit on one of those doughnuts???
Katy: For eight months…
Katy: No, really. You pull into your driveway and your next-door neighbor runs out of his house…
Katy: Almost as bad. He wants to see your new baby and immediately chides you for not having a hat on him…
Mary: Oh, yeah.
Katy: And it’s 105 flippin’ degrees outside and you’re thinking a HAT? And from that day on, you feel like a horrible parent. And that (just like with IMing) you REALLY don’t know what you’re doing.
Mary: I understand that.
Katy: What should a new mom do who starts out with no good role models for parenting and a scary next door neighbor?
Mary: Shoot the neighbor. (laughing)
Katy: Doug wouldn’t let me. He’s a pacifist…
Mary: Oh. Too bad.
Katy: Or I would have shot HIM by now! I’m nice, though. I believe in showing mercy to pacifists.
Mary: Then, the next best thing is prayer.
Katy: OK, how does that work when you’re a parent and all hormonal at the same time?
Mary: Hormonal prayer is the best, really.
Katy: Hormonal prayer, huh? Lots of groanings too deep for words, I guess. And of course I’m talking about at age 52, not just age 25…
Mary: If you suddenly become dyslexic, you could be 25!
Katy: Hallelujah! Turn back that French clock for me, baby!
Mary: Will do. That’s what I’m here for.
Katy: Really. A new parent starting from scratch. Crummy role models in her past…it’s all too much, isn’t it?
Mary: Sometimes it feels that way. Part of why I wrote the book was so parents like me (a pioneer parent) wouldn’t feel so alone.
Katy: Did you look to friends in the faith to show you how it’s done? Books like “The Strong Willed Child?” And what is a Pioneer Parent, anyway?
Mary: That’s so many questions at once! Yes, I looked to friends. I watched parents obsessively. I read one million books. A pioneer parent is someone who doesn’t want to duplicate the home he/she was raised in.
Katy: Why the heck not? Dysfunction Backwards R Us!
Mary: Yeah, I’m all about perpetrating all the muck! Maybe we should form a “Crummy Parents Group.”
Katy: I got awfully comfortable with all those crazy people…It’s hard to break away to start your own family unit, isn’t it? How do you even attempt it?
Mary: We are all enmeshed with our families, but God wants us to rise above our circumstances. If He desires that, then He will provide a way to do that.
Katy: OK. So you and your hubby begin pioneer parenting with prayer. Then what? Do you pray without ceasing for about 30 years? Do your knees hold up OK?
Mary: We need surgery.
Katy: I know a good ortho doc.
Mary: I bet.
Katy: My kids are all grown now and doing great with the Lord. It’s a relief, and I don’t know quite how it happened…except for God was with us.
Mary: God has to clean our insides because a lot of parenting flows from our hearts. Like when Jesus talked about the Pharisees and used the metaphor of a cup. He called them dirty cups. The outside was clean but the inside, well—let’s just say they didn’t use Dawn.
Katy: White-washed sepulchres, eh? I have to admit, sometimes I found myself as a parent doing the “right thing,” but not being the right person…
Mary: There’s a problem.
Katy: I fought more with myself than I ever fought with the kids…
Mary: Did you win?
Katy: God is winning, bless His heart…I’m afraid it’s the nature of being Scots-Irish to beat yourself up coming and going. Very violent sort, we are.
Mary: I’m like that, too. Beating myself up. I wrote the book to offer grace. So what pressing questions do you have for me, Miss Katy?
Katy: What? These aren’t pressing questions?
Mary: No, these are pressing, in an ironing sort of way…
Katy: OK, do any of your kids beat themselves up like you tend to do with yourself? How do you guide them into a better way?
Mary: My firstborn does. Don’t all firstborns do that? I try to offer her a lot of grace and talk with her about Jesus setting us free. I love her no matter what. Coming to France has been good for her. She’s not getting straight A’s anymore, and it’s beautiful to see her cope with that well.
Katy: I remember your kids struggled when you first moved to France….
Mary: OH! And howdy.
Katy: And it seems like they’ve made great adjustments…
Mary: And they still are. Yesterday my son Aidan was in tears because his mean, mean teacher ripped out his work from his notebook and made him recopy it.
Katy: You talk in your book about kids having a safe place. How do you make your Christian home into that place?
Mary: A safe place…By helping my kids know they are loved NO MATTER WHAT. Beyond that, we try to foster a home of grace where my kids can fail and still know we love them. We’re big into AUTHENTICITY at our house. We want our kids to share the ups and downs.
Katy: Authenticity…hmmm. Let’s come back to that idea in a minute. Mary, compare your first and second books for us.
Mary: One has a picture of the beach, the other of some sort of hiking family.
Katy: That’s pathetic on so many levels.
Mary: Seriously, the first book I wrote in conjunction with Hearts at Home Ministries. It’s a devotional for moms. I wanted, though, to write a devotional that wasn’t foofy. I’m tired of books for women that seem dumbed down. So I wrote one I would want to read. There are sixty devotional thingies.
Katy: Thingies, huh?
Mary: The second book—the one we’re discussing today—is about how to parent when you’ve had no example growing up.
Katy: Will it bother you if people start to look to you as an expert on parenting? Like Mary DeMuth the Foof Expert?
Mary: Yes TOTALLY. I told my agent I didn’t want to write parenting books, but he forced me to. By the way, the thread of similarity between the books is that both are authentic.
Katy: Your agent saw something in you. And here’s that word again—authentic. By authentic, do you mean honest?
Mary: Yes, honest. Real. True. And the real truth is, my agent saw craziness in me…
Katy: Back when we were Jesus Freaks, we talked about being “transparent.” Is authenticity the postmodern way to say that?
Katy: Did your agent force you to write at gunpoint? If so, Doug could not be an agent.
Mary: He did, but now he works for Time Warner, so no more guns.
Join us again tomorrow for Part Two of Pioneer Parenting with Mary DeMuth!
Posted by Katy on 01/26/06 at 06:43 PMFallible Comments...
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