No More Mr. Cool

Having a child changes you. Not in the sense of lost identity, but in how you think. As soon as Ethan came into our life, I found my mind constantly flooded with thoughts, scenarios, opinions, and plans. What would he eat; how would he eat; where would he sleep; what sports he would play; how to guide him to certain sports without forcing it on him? The last one was more for my husband…. Would he enjoy music? How to balance athletics and the arts? The list could go on. 

And those are the more concrete, tangible thoughts.

Then there are the hard-to-describe, thought fragments about parenting that could potentially have a lasting impact on my children. The tiny, day-to-day decisions that have a butterfly effect. 

My first run in with one of these parenting deliberations could be summed up in one word:


A seemingly harmless, nonthreatening, why-are-you-thinking-about-that word. A word I would have never guessed would be associated with an infant. It probably would never have made a blip on my radar if I hadn't witnessed a few moments between my husband and my son. Those moments revealed how powerful the word “cool” could be.

Very innocently, my husband has made, on a few different occasions, references to Ethan’s “coolness.” Mostly in the clothes Ethan is wearing. [I mean, what else is Ethan doing at 9 months?] Whether it’s his cool motocross pajamas or that shawl collar sweater that is too dorky or not cool enough. In some way my husband is preoccupied by our son’s cool factor. Subconsciously, he is either promoting or protecting Ethan’s “cool,” while those inclinations would never have crossed my mind, consciously or subconsciously.

After much analyzing and over-analyzing, I came to the conclusion that Dan had been conditioned to be aware of and prescribe to a certain definition of cool, where I had not. Both at home and from his peers, Dan was told what was cool and what wasn't, and it carried into his adult life. He still makes decisions based on his prescribed definition of cool, even if that definition hasn't evolved with the times. He will make comments like, “What would ________ [insert friend from preschool] think if I did this or wore that?” I can’t help but wonder why it matters. 

How was I not affected by this? Why was this completely off my radar? My parents. And for that I am forever grateful. Whether it was deliberate or not, my parents allowed my sisters and me to develop our likes, dislikes, and personalities without the pressure to conform to what they or society thought was cool. We also had the privilege of homeschooling during our formative elementary years. Lest you think we were sequestered and un-socialized, I assure you we had plenty of time to romp around with peers at church, weekly co-ops, and in our neighborhood.

I have always felt that because I was given the opportunity to develop who I was without the peer pressure of a traditional classroom setting, I was able to thrive and even enjoy my middle and high school years in a classroom environment. I made my own definition of cool and it didn't bother me if it didn't line up with what every one else thought. I was comfortable in my own skin.

As for Ethan’s future, I can’t say if we will be able to homeschool or not. His experiences with peers are not in our control. But we will consciously accept our role in shaping Ethan’s awareness and definition of “cool,” but more importantly where he places value. The concept of “cool” inherently places value in one’s outward appearance.

I pray that Ethan grows up finding value and identity in Christ and does his best to view himself and others as God does, by the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7] The fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] is something to desire rather than sweet, new kicks or the hippest haircut. 

And I am not perfect. I can [and do!] fall prey to the desire to style the cutest kid on the block. My and Dan’s actions and words are the part of his perception of “cool” that we can control. We will do our best to rise to the challenge of guarding those words and actions so that Ethan has the chance to develop outside the burden of what’s cool.

 Just be a kid. Explore who you are. Find your value in Jesus. Because nothing else matters.

Vi ses senare,

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