Parenthood: Shadow is also shade
A while back, I bumped into one of the episodes of Steve Harvey’s show. In this particular episode, one of the guests, who introduced himself as a Hollywood music star, made a complaint about his son not allowing him to be of help to his career. Apparently, his son was trying to enter and also establish himself in the music industry but did not want to use any of his dad’s contacts in the industry. This emotional father even broke into tears at some point when Steve started talking. You could see that this father wanted a real connection to his son and would love to be part of his musical career using the already established name that he, the dad, has made. But the son seems to want a different path from his father’s influence, citing the need not to be under the shadow of his father.
Steve made a few comments about the whole story, citing the fact that most children nowadays kind of think that asking for help from their parents who are already established in the same sector or career they are going into, is trying to be a copy of their parents or trying to live under their shadow. One particular thing that Steve gave as a response stuck with me. He said, “Children do these things because they do not understand that shadow is also shade”. I just paraphrased. The statement “shadow is also shade” could not leave my mind, and it is more than a year or so since I watched that episode.
Shadow is also shade. But what does it mean?
I won’t necessarily use the interpretation that Steve used in that show, but I will try to give it a personal approach.
Our world has become much more complicated when it comes to human interactions, family values, emotional tendencies, community building and safety, etc., while at the same time knowledge and quick access to knowledge through the use of the internet is almost breaking the ceiling of our planet. There is almost nothing you are looking for on any topic that you can’t find on the internet and it’s scary, to say the least. Social media has become everything else except being social. For as good as it is to have access to billions of items of content for just about anything at our fingertips, the scary side is what this endless source of information is doing to our families, children, relationships, and human interactions, since whatever anyone needs, they can get from the internet. So, you won’t have to think too much to understand why a child would believe that asking for help from his father who has gone ahead of him in the same industry is the same thing as being under his shadow. But a shadow is also shade and this is very true.
If you live somewhere, let’s say in Mombasa, Kenya or Lagos, Nigeria where the climate is just naturally hot and humid, and you find yourself walking on the street in the midday sun with sweat streaming down your face and your clothes soaked, then the concept of finding comfort under a shade from the hot sun will make instant sense. But that shade that gives comfort, by the natural law of physics must also create a shadow, and that’s where the story is. Whatever creates shadow must be directly in the way of a light source, but in this case, when a father decides to create a shade that action creates a shadow, the reason is that there is definitely a source of distress out there that a child needs the shade for. No one has to be reminded of the many dangers and pitfalls in Hollywood and even in our current general day-to-day life. Thus, a father’s concern for his kid and for which he creates a shadow/shade situation should not be taken for granted. It’s just a father trying to help his kid be the best that he can be without the many hassles he himself had gone through. But this also has its own issues. Let’s talk about those issues.
Shadows are our nothingness
Based on the simple natural law of physics, shadows are created when a source of light hits an object. The shadow is neither the object nor the source of light, but just a reflection of the object that is in the way of light. Meaning that shadow is the nothingness found between the interaction of light and an object. What does that tell you? Shadows are mostly the nothingness in our life’s interactions that we spread on others. Shadows are our egos, our pride, our fears, our emotional entanglements, our desires etc, which though they are not tangible but can become real when we give them the energy that makes them real. And these are the shadows we spread to our kids when we want them to be a certain way. These are the shadows we sometimes cover our kids with when we realized that we have not managed to achieve a dream we had when we were twenty years old and now that we are sixty years old, we want to achieve that dream through our kids. It’s a very subtle but very dark shade and here is why.
Every human being, either your child or the children of other people, comes into this world with their own destiny and purpose given to them by the Creator. To try to relive the missed moments in our own lives through them will simply just be called evil. Why? It is burdensome, to say the least. And because they are wired differently because of their unique destiny and purpose, we end up making them waste their lives trying to be us or a new version of us instead of us helping them to be them, just as it was intended.
The danger of a mini-me syndrome
My wife wrote an article titled: The mini-me syndrome. Please check it out here.
In that article, she tried to explain the evil that occurs when we try to make our kids a mini of ourselves. For me, it’s not just an insult to the child that we are trying to make a mini of ourselves, but an insult to God and even the larger society. What makes us think that our achievements or what we call our achievements are worth duplicating through our kids? Take, for example, a socialite who amassed wealth through sleeping with multiple men and engaging in glorified prostitution and wants her baby girl to be a mini of herself, is that not evil? Why should a child’s destiny be reduced to a miniature of glorified prostitution? And I am just using this as an example. There are lots of thoughts that can be shared on this particular issue. But some parents find so much glamour and joy in trying to make their kids like themselves. And because we now live in the age of knowledge, far from what was twenty years ago, kids know when they are being turned into minis of their parents and they revolt. Twenty years ago, it’s almost like the only career a child could dream of was to be either a medical doctor, lawyer, or engineer. And that was even given much encouragement because their parents, were mostly doctors, lawyers, and engineers. But in this current age where being a photographer is as lucrative if not more lucrative than being a medical doctor, trying to force a child to follow the footsteps of a doctor when they want to be a photographer will only create conflict. And that’s where the fear of being in the shadow of parents comes in.
Why do we keep missing it?
There is a scripture that says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”. Proverbs 22:6.
The above scripture is quite popular and it’s one beautiful scriptural wisdom that parents or would-be parents must understand. And I said that because this scripture itself has become what many quote out of their excitement for godly wisdom but the context and how it is applied has been lost.
To understand the above scripture, we need to break it into phases, which are:
- Train up a child
- In the way he should go
- And when he is old
- He will not depart from it
Each of the four phases is a process that is critical in the overall plan for how to build our kids for their destinies.
Train up a child in simple terms simply means, “prepare a child.” Many parents love the idea of sending their kids to the best schools available and which is a good thing. But oftentimes, they forget one very critical thing. That is, what is the pre-destined destination of this child and for which reason he is being trained or sent to school? In other words, parents understand the value of training and preparing their kids through school or whatever else, but forget to ask to what end? So, we lay hold of “train up a child” as a valuable concept but forget to ask “what way should he go?”. And that has become where most parents get stuck. So, they provide the money for school fees but leave the destination of the child in the hands of the teachers or the school system. It’s like we keep getting it backward. The way a child should go is supposed to come first before training toward that way begins.
The way he should go is the direction that takes him or her to his or her purpose. A destination always defines the direction and not the other way around. You cannot say your destination is Mombasa, then you turn your vehicle towards Marsabit which is in the north of Kenya. Meaning that the way he should go must align with the end point of that way, that is, the purpose of the child on earth.
When you hear the phrase “and when he is old”, what comes to mind? For me, I think it simply means “when the child has come to the age of responsibility”. And also, it means, do not delude yourself to think that your child will not one day realize that it’s time to leave your shade and venture into their path. And here lies the beauty of the entire story. A child that has been trained and raised to know their path of destiny, does not depart from it. Career may change many times along the way, but destiny does not. Why? The destiny was not sourced from you or imposed on them because you were trying to make them a mini of yourself, but by a deep and clear understanding that the child has about his or her God-given destiny and purpose on the earth.
Is your shade choking your child?
Oh, how beautiful and sweet for a child or children to have parents that care for them and are willing to provide for them the needed shade from the “heat” of life. It’s mostly better when both parents are available and for obvious reasons. But in a world where more adults are lost and groping in the dark than there are young people who are looking for their path, what happens then? The lost elders simply try to navigate these innocent young souls in the very direction of where their own broken compasses are showing them. And this is very dangerous. For if you are paying attention keenly, you will see that globally, we now have more young people who are very intelligent and creative but lack knowledge of what the basic meaning of life is. So, they are at the top of their classes, the best among their peers, and run the best startups in all fields but find themselves depressed and suicidal. Interestingly, this happens to also have some good in it. Let me explain.
For lack of how to put it clearly, I think that when a person comes to that point in life where they start to question things and try to find out the meaning of life and thus the tendency to be depressed or suicidal, is a good thing. Here is what I mean. It takes someone who has come face to face with the “door” that leads to the truth about life to come to that point where depression and emptiness of the heart take over them, even with all the good successes they may have accrued themselves. The depression and the emptiness in their hearts, if understood and used properly, become the very energy they need to enter through that open door into the wonderful paradise called the true meaning of life. Meaning that it’s easier to stay in the glamour of success and high grades than it is to come to the point where one can look at themselves in the mirror and tell themselves the truth that life means more than money and fame.
Therefore, since children don’t just become what they are purposed to be without conscious training toward that purpose, then it becomes a very important part of their growing-up season to be shown their destiny and purpose. And that includes not trying to make them the version of ourselves that we wish we became some years back. Now as a parent or as parents, we must be careful not to allow our shade of security and comfort from the heat of life to become a shadow of death to our kids. Shadow is nothingness and nothingness will give birth to nothingness.
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Samuel Phillips is a writer, graphic designer, photographer, songwriter, singer and a lover of God. As an Afrikan content creator, he is passionate about creating a better image and positive narrative about Afrika and Afrikans. He is a true Afrikan who believes that the true potential of Afrika and Afrikans can manifest through God and accurate collaborations between Afrikans. Afrika is the land of kings, emperors, original wisdom, ancient civilizations, great men and women and not some road-side-aid-begging poor third world continent that the world finds joy in undermining.