Proverbs 1: 8-9 (NRSVA)
8 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
9 for they are a fair garland for your head,
and pendants for your neck.
This proverb offers sound advice, to remember what our parents taught us. But what if… What if the words of your parents are (or were) not garlands and pendants, but unwise words that still haunt you? How do we sift through all the messages we hear, storing the good, and letting go of the bad?
A word I have discovered recently is ‘alloparenting’ — a way of talking about all the people who help us in our early development — the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child.
None of us gets here alone.
Many of us have two loving parents. Many of us have one. Many of us don’t have any. But all of us — whoever we are — only get to where we are now with the benefit of alloparents — all those others; be they siblings, friends, teachers, carers, neighbours, concerned strangers; who have helped raise us or intervened at the right time.
It is my prayer that all of us may have precious words somewhere in our life from parents or alloparents that we can wear as ‘garlands’ and ‘pendants’; and that we can borrow too the beautiful words from the Bible, from treasured songs, from the old stories. It is also my prayer that any unhelpful, heavy, and ungainly pendants or garlands may be lifted from our neck or brow by our loving parent in heaven — our God who is above all.
Lift us into your loving embrace.
And thank you for all those who have been our alloparents.