Parenting–Why Donald Miller is Only Half Right……

Confession, I’ve never met Donald Miller – but I like him.   I’ve read a lot of his “stuff” on the web and while I don’t agree with ALL of it, I appreciate who he is and what he does.

But I think he only hit half of the mark on this blog post.   You can read what he wrote at

Why do I think he only hit half the mark?   A couple of things:

First – he doesn’t have kids.   I’m sorry, someone who doesn’t have kids is telling those who do how to be a parent?    Isn’t that sort of like me telling my brother how to run a youth camp.   I don’t know what he does or how he does it.

But the bigger issue I have is that he misses a big component in the equation.   He talks about how great parents are ones who live transparent lives.    They are open to their kids about their shortfalls, they live lives that aren’t hidden behind a veil of secrecy.   He appears to also take that into the public realm.

In other words, we need to “live in the open” to be healthy.    Especially for parents who are parenting children “from hard places” I totally agree that it is important to acknowledge your failures to your children.    Some of the biggest and best healing moments with my children have been times of mutual apology.    We both acknowledge our part in the “incident” and we both admit to failing and ask for forgiveness.

If Donald is taking that into the public realm, then I think he’s missing a big component to it.   He encourages us to live open and honest lives.

But our society isn’t prepared and comfortable with dealing with that sort of openness.

Ask any adoptive parent, they’ll tell you.  

Society doesn’t know how to react when someone says, “No, I’m not doing okay.”    Or, “Man, it’s been a rough week.”   Or, “We can’t come to __________ because _________ is having a bad day.”

We need to not only be more open, but we also need to work for a society where society is more willing to accept pain, accept hurt, be verbal about struggles and let people be real.

When that happens, then we’ll see people be willing to tell the truth and connect with others. 

If society isn’t willing to connect and meet people where they are, then we’re going to live lives of isolation.

So, yes, Donald Miller is right – but he’s only half right.    Not only do we need to be more open, but we need to, as a society, be willing to accept the openness and the vulnerability and the pain that comes with that.

Are we ready to do that?

I think more people are willing to now than were, say 5 years ago, but we’ve got a ways to go.


2 thoughts on “Parenting–Why Donald Miller is Only Half Right……

  1. Glenn

    this is reaching… Far. Donald is talking about a practical and you’re talking about an ideal. I bet he would agree with you too. But I bet he would say that the way to change society in that way is to send kids into the world who we’ve taught that to. So I disagree that he is half right. But I do agree that you are reaching in order to get blog traffic… I bit.

    1. tomvanderwell Post author

      Glenn – thanks for sharing your thoughts. A couple of thoughts too. I think that Donald would probably agree that society needs to be more okay with being transparent about suffering and hard things. But I don’t agree that we have to wait 20 years until the children from today are adults on their own. We can, and I believe we are, working on changing that now. Oh and in case you’re wondering, I did not do this to get blog traffic. That’s not why I write. But if you want to know, my biggest traffic post is


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