During a coaching session recently, I had the opportunity to explore some parenting fears with a client. One of the thoughts, I will admit, is something that frequently goes through my mind as I raise my daughter.
I don’t want to mess up my kid.
Maybe you can relate. I’m afraid that I will parent out of my brokenness. I don’t want a bad decision by me, a reaction, a painful experience, or a missed opportunity to derail her and send her on a different, tougher path.
This is the parenting philosophy of our culture.
Our culture wants to insulate kids from any and all painful experiences. Hoping that they can be shielded them from unhappiness.
So we find that we live in a system that focuses on esteeming the self. Withholding discipline and erasing boundaries.
One consequence to this is that in our effort to take the pain of living in a broken world away, we also take away opportunities to grow.
Improvement. Perseverance. Refinement. All are products of painful experiences.
But even if we could create the perfect relational system in which to raise our kids – perfectly overcoming the lies from our own family system of origin – we would still be overlooking one unchangeable factor…
Our kids are broken image bearers. They are fundamentally selfish. Prone to disappointment as they pursue their own sense of wholeness.
Remember Adam and Eve?
Even the efforts of the most perfect human parents would still lead to disappointment, unmet expectations, and unintended lies to form in the development of children.
Efforts to be perfect parents are an effort to be our children’s savior. And shame felt by falling short of perfection has more to do with misplaced identity – seeking to define our value as a product of how our children turn out – than with long-term consequences to our children.
I know that is true of my experience. My lie is that if I just try harder, then my daughter will avoid life’s hazards and struggles. That lie sounds way better in my head in the moment than it does seeing it typed out.
All of our decisions, even our best ones, contribute in unintentional ways to our children’s brokenness. It is unavoidable, a consequence of the broken world system – created by broken people – that we presently live in.
Our children will have to work our their own salvation, regardless of our parenting skill.
So, what is the best thing we can do as parents?
We can show our kids the example of developing our identity in Christ. Defining our sense of self – the truth that gives us value – in Him.
Letting them see how we walk with our own brokenness. Allowing Christ’s truth to heal us and transform our mind.
Faithfully walking our path, and giving them the guidance and space to walk the path God has set before them.
And choosing to trust that God loves our kids more than even we do.
What fears impact your parenting?