Raising children puts everything into such a sharp perspective - especially when you're not expecting any new insights. Just yesterday we were going along with our daily business, I think I was following my little boys into the next room, and this thought hit me like a heavy diaper:
"We create 'normal' for our children."
It's not such a deep thought, it's not even surprising when you really think about it. Every time we talk with our children, every time we ignore them, every time we sit down at the table to share food (or don't), every time we discipline (or don't)...you get the picture. Just about everything we do on a regular basis, and we do it without thinking about it because it's "normal," we shape our children's view of how people live.
Remember the first time you went over to a friend's house and saw the way they ate together, did laundry, spoke to one another...? It wasn't until the summer after my sophomore year of college that I found out that women could whistle (a song at least, my mom can blow your eardrum out). And it's not like I ever even thought about it. I stayed with a friend all summer, and his mom would whistle little tunes. The first time I heard her I thought it must be his dad - then I walked around the corner and saw who it was. It was in that moment I knew what my "normal" was for whistling music. Of course, the next moment I knew how absurd it was. More often than not, normal is shaped for us without our knowledge. In fact, it just might be the only way.
I know my boys will have experiences like that, and it probably can't be helped, nor do I think I have to "fix" it. But it's another heavy load to carry as a dad. I want my children to see normal, but not see it so much that they think their way is the only way. I mostly want them to see what God's normal is, that is, love and hope and peace. And when they see the absence of these things in other people and their families, I want them to work toward being vessels for Him to work through to establish them.
After all, it's His normal that is the true normal.