I think Gerald May is one of the brightest, most compelling writers I’ve read. I was introduced to him by a professor in seminary. May was a psychiatrist and teacher of spirituality. He’s got some fascinating and penetrating material in the area of contemplation, for example. In one of his books, his first one, he talks about parents building children with methods and the importance of being with children. Here’s a quote from Simply Sane. I’ll post another tomorrow to round out parts of his thought.
Sometimes parents watch with fear, unable to know what to give their children, how to direct them. Not realizing the possibility of fully, freely being with their children, parents wonder how to be with their children. What is the proper technique? What is the best method? Caught in this dilemma, it is not unusual for parents to turn to psychotherapy for help. For guidance in the proper methods of raising children. And psychotherapy, it seems, always has something to say.
In its many forms, psychotherapy has offered a veritable smorgasbord of guidelines as to how children should be raised. A host of suggestions, almost all of which take the form of methods and techniques.
There was a time when psychotherapists advocated strictness, hard work, and solid rules. Then, in an almost universal misinterpretation of Freud, permissiveness became the way. More recently, parents have been told that the best child-raising involves listening to feelings and straight communication. All are methods. Whether a specific method works well or not is unimportant. What is important is that parents have an insatiable hunger for methods, and psychotherapists have an unending supply. When the method is what counts, the child is lost. For methods are not used for being. Methods are used for building.