Recently, I sent the following letter to a few families I am especially close to:
Friends and family.
ALL of the young families that are receiving this email are doing superb–but definitely not easy and not without a lot of help–jobs of raising their children, even during the covid epidemic. I often feel awe when I consider the overwhelming responsibility you are carrying. Sometimes I am able to help. Always I am in love with you and keep you in deep prayer.
AND, this really good article that I have attached, acknowledges the near impossibility of raising kids well in an isolated nuclear family, which is a very recent and broken adaptation of our culture. In my opinion, there are better alternatives–like really good friends and communities–and each of you has been working overtime to identify them and integrate them into your lives.
Still, as in the crazy season of covid, you have all felt the strain. And, please remember, you are among the strongest and blessed people in the world. Millions and billions do not have your faith and your resources. They are disabled and suffering massively. Even some of your neighbors!
As the circumstances of our perilous world change, this disability and suffering will multiply. It is already becoming exponential.
Given the realities encountering all of us, how do we grow spiritually, become more resilient to inevitable traumas, and make any and all adaptations that can ease the passage of our children into the future?
Please, consider reading this article about the fragility of the nuclear family and even more begin to consider creatively alternative models.
OK, let me be honest here. I think my own children realize that if grandpa Ken had his way in this wild world, he would have all of us living in much closer proximity to each other as an extended and mutually supportive family, at a reasonable distance from urban and suburban centers. (An Amish farm, 60 acres, is for sale a couple of miles away.) In my opinion, we are rapidly approaching the day when some such alternative model will be the only way to live well. Some of you even know that we have been recreating the world where we live, right here in Hideaway Hills, as a demonstration to others that all of us can learn the skills needed to adapt to many kinds of perils; but certainly not all. As of today, we can heat our home without propane. We have space to house a few others in an emergency. The sawdust toilet works and we are a couple of days away from having our alternative water system working. We could set up the word fired cooking stove at nearly a moment’s notice.
Kathy weaves cloth and rugs. She raises some of our food and has learned how to can food. Three new raised garden beds are being built and the soil for them is being made on site. Some emergency food is also on site. if we have to, and only if, we can cut firewood by hand. Most importantly, however, spiritual growth and emotional resilience are always on our minds and in our practice. I am learning everything I can about trauma resilience and Kathy has made a major commitment to the healing of her rooted trauma.
No one can or should try to duplicate our efforts. This is our path, spiritually discerned, which I wrote about in chapter 14 of God Is Just Love.
What is your path? How much effort do you need to devote to reimagining your lives? To resorting priorities, even as your lives are FULL of daily challenges? What kinds of supports are needed right now, and in possible futures, for your family, and how will they be built?