I'm raising a person. A little one. I'm raising a human being from the ground up. He started as an embryo inside my wife's uterus. Now he's showing wants and needs, squawking and cooing, having fun, crying when he needs something, laughing when he's happy, and he's crawling and grabbing stuff and putting everything in his mouth.
He's just getting to the point in his life where I need to set limits for him. He needs to be free and explore in order to be happy and develop, but sometimes (often) he reaches out to play with things that can hurt him, or that will break if he plays with it. I'm thinking that raising a child when he's older is just a more sophisticated version of that. I'll want him to explore, have a social life, date, fall in love, experiment, learn what he wants to, and be strong and independent and happy. I'll also have to sometimes set limits on his freedom in order to make sure he doesn't hurt himself or others.
When he was a newborn, all I had to do was change his diaper (diapers aren't for babies, they're for the adults who don't want poop on everything. Babies don't want their pelvic regions all bound up like that, or to get their waste all over themselves), talk to him, sing to him, carry him, and love him. That was it. No disciplining, no saying "no" to him. Just try to figure out his needs, and give him love. That newborn stage sets the foundation of the relationship. It's no accident that the stage of pure love and care comes before the educational stage of parenting.
I'm seeing that the best thing I can do for him is not to stress out over him, and just let him be himself, and when he grabs something he shouldn't be playing with, give him something as an alternative. He knows that. He cries if I just take stuff away from him. If I give him something else to explore and play with, he's fine. I just got to let him explore, play, be himself, and use my adult perspective to keep him safe. And play with him, love him, and have fun with him.
People get screwed up when they're forced to conform to a bunch of stupid rules. Kids and adults become snobbish when they feel the need to conform to other people's expectations, and their sense of identity and self-worth is tied up with what their parents, peers, and leaders tell them to do and be. People need real meaning, not socially imposed bullshitty ideals.
I originally rejected Judaism as a kid because it seemed empty. Jewish communities I knew were the epitome of snobbery and bullshit values. Adults wanted me to get the best grades and to do the conventional thing. Kids wanted me to dress, talk, and listen to music like them, and to like the same people that they did. Shuls were stuffy and formal.
But still, it was ingrained in me early on that Judaism at least symbolized something highly and deeply meaningful. Even if I didn't really know Judaism well or believe in what I did know of it, it was still the symbol of ultimate meaning.
I guess that made it inevitable that I rejected everything I was taught as a kid, went wild in my early twenties, found real spirituality and meaning and self-definition for myself, and then translated all that back into what was for me the symbol of ultimate meaning. I guess that's why I ended up being a traditionally observant Jew who's got some odd ideas of his own....