Love in The Time of Contempt, Joanne Fedler

love-in-the-time-of-contemptI started reading this book just as my eldest child leapt off the edge of tweenhood into the “vortex of adolescence”. It hasn’t been pretty, but Fedler’s book has come as somewhat of a salve at this precarious moment in my relatively short parenting career. I’m still not sure that I will survive the “intensity of adolescence” but at least I’m going into this war properly armed!

There are so many gems in Fedler’s book that I’m not quite sure what to share and what to withhold… As always, Fedler writes with unbridled honesty about subjects which are fraught with complexity and angst. By baring herself as a parent in this book, Fedler allows us all to be more honest about our own parenting and what we can realistically expect from ourselves and from our children. Underlying her various theses is the notion that we have to love and appreciate ourselves if we wish to impart any wisdom to our teens. We have to know and value our own strengths and weaknesses and we have to be firm in our values and beliefs. In reading this I was reminded of Sara Yocheved Rigler’s mantra – The only person you can change is yourself. As Fedler writes about raising teens: “We don’t control them but we do control the values with which we raise them.” Ultimately, in order to survive the journey through parenting adolescents we have to remember that we are the adults and that “our choices (will) ripple into our kids’ lives”, it is unavoidable and we are bound to “parent imperfectly”. Such is life.

Our role as parents is not to shelter and cushion our children. According to Fedler, our job is to teach our teens that “life will not break them” and in doing so, we need to constantly remind ourselves that it also will not break us and neither will our kids, although at times it might seem otherwise!

Ultimately, what I will carry with me into this sea is that I am not alone. That out there, perhaps across the street, next door or out in the virtual landscape, there are #amillionconnectedparents all battling just like me.


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