Let's Rethink What It Means To Be A "Good Parent"
|Tom with Nick as a newborn. Shadows follow us through the years...|
"How could this happen? I'm supposed to be a good mom."
Have you ever thought something like that?
I recently received a call from a distraught mom. Her child had acted out in an uncharacteristic way at school, and she was shaken up. We talked through the event, and at the end of our conversation, she was calmer, confident about the direction to go in helping her youngster learn from the situation. I could tell she was fighting back the tears much of the time we talked. She repeated herself several times as we spoke - "But I'm a good mom..."
Honestly, I didn't think much about what her child had done the rest of the day. It was the mom's words that echoed in my head.
"I'm a good mom..."
Later the same day this happened...
Not using names or specific details, I shared some of the conversation with a woman in another city who has adult children. I explained how surprised I was, not about the child's actions, but that it would make the mother question herself since I knew her to be a great mom. "I understand," mom number two told me. "After all that I have been going through (with my adult child), I get it. It's easy to feel judgment and shame when your kids struggle."
My heart ached at her comment. It doesn't seem to matter how old our kids are. Sometimes we share a belief system that puts us parents at fault in an unhealthy way.
Why are we so quick to judge ourselves when our children misbehave or make poor decisions or simply struggle through life? Why have we bought into a belief that good parents don't raise children who struggle?
I think it's time to embrace a new definition of "good parent."
Let's start in the Garden, back in Genesis chapter 2. A perfect father had created a dream life for his two children. Adam and Eve had everything they could want or need. They enjoyed a close, comfortable, open relationship with their father. He spent time with them, conversed with them, and they enjoyed each other's company. The father respected his son so much that he asked him to name everything he had created. And when the son lacked companionship, the father supplied a beautiful counterpart to share his journey.
What happened next would have knocked the breath out of many of us. We know the story in Genesis 3. The children listened to the lies of the serpent and didn't trust their father. The consequences were immense, and we are still suffering today because of their sin. They seemingly ruined the entire plan their father had put in place. And what did the father do?
Here is the response of a good parent.
He talked to them, he disciplined them appropriately, continued to meet their needs, and he loved them unconditionally.
What the father didn't do was doubt himself about his parenthood. There is no record in the Bible of God blaming himself for the bad behavior of his children.
I know, I know. You're talking about God, Lori. It's not a fair comparison.
True. None of us is perfect. But God is. And he is the designer of each and every soul that gets created. Let's look at one of my favorite passages and think a little more about this.
Psalm 139:13-16 is a beautiful description of our creation and development. Listen to what the Psalmist says.
"For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
I don't understand how it all works, but God knits each of us together in our mother's womb. He is intimately involved in the design of each of our bodies, minds, personalities, spirits. God knit us together in a special and unique way.
That's pretty amazing, don't you think? The creator of the whole universe is intimately involved with each of us from the very beginning. He put us together knowing full well what we would be tempted with and where our bent would lie.
How will we change when we accept the truth that our children have been specially designed by God? Will it be easier to step aside and let him do his work without the anxiety so many parents express? Our kids have to make mistakes to learn lessons as they travel through life.
I heard a saying one time from an older woman I admire. Here's what she tells young moms: "kids will be kids. You don't have to worry about what they will do. All you have to work on is how you respond and react to it." I believe it's a wise principle for parents of all ages to embrace.
What would happen if we decided to partner with God in raising our children, loving them unconditionally as they become adults? Instead of feeling guilt or shame, what if we approached our parenthood with something like this?
"Ok, God, look what your child did today!"
"Wow! That was something, wasn't it? I'm feeling disappointed. How are you feeling, God?"
"What do you think we should do about this? How would you like me to handle this? How can I help her change? How can I help him understand the consequences of his actions? Or should I simply step aside and trust You will work out the details on this one?"
"Help me to love unconditionally like you do, God? You created this beautiful child. Help me show them how to live like Jesus."
How would that approach free you emotionally in your parenting? Would it help you accept your children for who they are?
I've asked you many questions today. I hope you find answers to those questions in your heart as you ponder them. Some topics are deep waters. This is one of them. There is more to talk about on this subject - much more than I can write about in one post.
Chew on this. Study these scriptures. Pray through them. Leave me comments and let's talk about this.
I love my kids. You love your kids. I believe you are a good parent.
This is the first in a 5-part series on rethinking what it means to be a good parent. You can read the second part here. The third post is here.
I would love to here from you if this touched your heart in any way. Please feel free to comment below or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org