Teach Your Children Well

Posted on August 14, 2013 | 44 comments

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?

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  1. Hi There! I am coming over from Intentional Me.

    You have a perfect theme for ‘intentional’. We all need to live that intention in the Lord. Hopefully, our children will see the joy and follow. My goodness, no one wants to mess up their kids! I think if you already are on the look-out for that, you are well on your way to doing great!

    Nice to see you today!

  2. Watching my kids walk through hard times because of this broken world is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. I find that in order to respond in a way that will allow the pain and disappointments in life to lead my child to finding his/her identity in Christ I need a support system. When those tough times come I need others that are emotionally removed from the situation to step in to both parent and child’s hearts. My emotions as a mom get in the way and block Truth. When someone else can step in and speak that Truth into parent and child then I can step back and focus on trusting the Lord in the situation and with my kid. Sometimes truly surrendering and trusting takes all my energy even though He has proved Himself over and over.

    • Great point on having a support system. A good circle of friends is a must when in Christ. Thanks for dropping by and adding value to the discussion!

  3. I absolutely love your blog. I have never heard a parenting explanation worded just like you did today – it takes so much pressure off of parenting to realize that it is all in God’s hands, anyway. Thank you for taking the time to share. I found your blog through dysfunction junction. I would love for you to come visit me at theunraveledmom.com Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks for the kinds words. I love to check out the blogs of those who comment here. Thank you for the invite!

  4. I’m stopping by from the Aloha Hop and I just want to say that I agree with you. I am guilty of trying to protect my children so much I almost leave them unprepared for the world. I am seeing that with my oldest as he is preparing to head to college. Now I worry that I ‘protected’ him too much. I may have made him naive to things he needed to understand in order to be out there without me at his side. So now I am at a race with time to remove the shield I covered him with and try to teach him that although the world has things to fear that are not ok he has a God you gives him the ability to still live with No Fear.

    • Thanks for your honesty, Tiffany. But, don’t let the enemy shame you, God has a unique path for your son. Thank you for dropping by and adding value to the discussion.

  5. Seriously Scott, this is my favorite post of yours ever! Spot on! Such a timely reminder for me as I gear up to pick my daughter up from camp- my fear? That she may have had a problems and not enjoyed herself away from the bubble I create here. This post reminded me that even if that’s true, she’ll be ok- the experience will work in her what God needs to work. Thanks for linking up to Thrilling Thursday!

    • Thanks for the kind words. This post came from the discussions my wife and I have been having regarding our daughter’s change for school for this year. Glad you stop by.

      • Awww, thanks for sharing a bit of the back story. This post was one of two that “Thrilled Me Most” from last week’s link up so, it’s featured this week! Hope you’ll be back to link up again! Thanks!!

  6. Very thought-provoking post! The part where you talked about trying to be our children’s savior especially stepped on my toes…in a good way. Glad I stopped by!

  7. In my experience you sign up for fear and guilt the moment you give birth your tiny baby! The responsibility of parenthood is awesome and it’s easy to worry about how we might let our kids down or fail in some way. Yet, this is where I depend on grace. The grace of God which is all-sufficient in my mistakes and in my weaknesses.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking post and for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  8. Ok this was exactly what I needed to hear today! Great great post! I will be sharing this. I am stopping by from SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest! I look forward to your visit back soon to my site!

    • Thanks for stopping by and for sharing. I appreciate the encouragement.

  9. Thanks so much for linking up with the tattler Thursday blog hop.

  10. Thanks for joining us this week at the Let’s Get Social Sunday party. Have a wonderful week!

  11. Yes, being the best example of folllowing Christ is probably the biggest blessing we can be for our children. If we are allowing God to work through us and leaning on Christ to make us who He intened us to be then we would in turn probably be parenting our children with the a Christ centered focus. 🙂 Thanks for linking up!

  12. What really stuck out from your excellent post was the sentence about trying to be perfect parents is an affect to be their savior. I guess I have to trust God to take the mistakes I’ve made and still be able to save my children. Perfection is my #1 hangup.

    • Thanks for your vulnerable response. There are power in your words for others. God bless.

  13. Thank you so much for this post. After a rough morning and beating myself up for not responding to a particular situation as I should have, God knew I needed to read this. Blessings Scott!

    • I had a similar feeling last night after my daughter’s reaction to the first day of school. Not a daddy highlight, that is for sure. Thanks for dropping by Misty.

  14. Deep thoughts and great ideas. Thanks for sharing. We are all selfish but God loves us, and we need to accept the imperfection in our children. Just one thought I gleaned from reading today. Our children need to see Christ in us even with our blemishes.

  15. This is such a great post. We can not shield our children from all of the dangers of life. I agree that they must trust in the Lord and pray for his guidance in making wise choices. Knowing that he is there and hears and answers their prayers is one of the best things that you can teach them. If we didn’t have these experiences we would never be allowed to grow. Thanks for sharing this with SYC.

  16. I think trusting God with our children is at times both the hardest and easiest part. Thanks for this gentle reminder to trust the one that loves them even more than I do (if that is possible). Featuring at Family Fun Friday.


    • Thank you for dropping by and adding to the discussion.

  17. I recently had a conversation with my oldest son who is currently working on getting his masters degree, Scott. He’s all of 23 and thinks that if he does all the right things and obeys all of God’s truths that this is the way to ensure his success. Of course, his idea of success and my idea of success look very different, I suspect! I tried to explain to him that sometimes you can do your best and all the right things and still experience pain and failure. He didn’t view this as motherly wisdom but rather elder cynicism! But I must let God do the teaching and not worry about what he understands and embraces at this stage of life. It’s so hard, but it’s all in the surrendering! Thanks for addressing such relevant and important topics each week!

    • That has been my false view, and God has had quite the time breaking me of it. Ultimately, your son walks his own path. Thanks for sharing Beth!

  18. Very well put!

    We can’t possibly shield our children from all things that will cause unhappiness. But then again, maybe we don’t want to. Perhaps they can learn some very important lessons from the hard things in life.

    The fact that God allows us to go through hardships so that we can learn from them is a reflection of what we should do as parents – not push them into hardships, but not to bail the children out of them, either.

    Thank you!

    • Great point. Further, our attempts to shield them will lead to other forms of unhappiness and disappointment. Thanks for commenting.

  19. Thank you Scott for your thought provoking message, and thank you for stopping by Oh My Heartsie Girl to share your link, Im sure my visitors will enjoy your blog as well. Wishing you the best, Karren
    Create Positive Change WW

  20. Thank you so much for the great reminders…particularly the statement about my attempts to be a perfect parent are an effort to be their savior…painful, but true. I found this to be beneficial in my own life and wanted to share it so I featured this post today at Think Tank Thursday at saving4six(dot)com.

    • Thanks for the feature! I’m glad you liked the post.

  21. Thanks for sharing this on my What Are You Doing? Blog Hop! Great reminder to trust God in everything, including your kids.

  22. I think you speak well to the issues of parenting today. We try our best to use our faith as our guide in our home, but I think a lot of other social and political factors come in to play. Take a moment to to read my thoughts on parenting in the world we live. I’d be interested in what you might think. Thanks for sharing!

    • I will definitely hop over and check you out. Have a great day!

  23. “Our children will have to work our their own salvation, regardless of our parenting skill.” I love this line! So true!

    Scott – I didn’t know you were a coach!? That is excellent! I am a certified Christian Life Coach as well, continuing my education, wanting to focus more on Hope Coaching.

    By your writing, I bet you are excellent! All the best for your writing and your career ahead! Be blessed as i am sure you are a blessing…


  24. I worry that my kids will remember the moments when I mess up more than they remember the good moments- and we all have moments when we mess up.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing & linking up at Thank You Honey’s Whatever Wednesday Party!!

    Sarah @ Thank You Honey

  26. Great post and very well said! Thanks so much for linking up to All My Bloggy Friends last week – I hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. I look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on this week! 🙂

  27. It is so hard the fine line between control and responsibility. So many of my parenting fears come from thinking I’m in control, and the resolution is almost always found in accepting responsibility for my actions and words, instead of trying to control my kids (or anyone else for that matter!). The identity I have in Christ is one defined by his Love and Grace. May my children see that in me.

    Thanks for sharing at the Tuesday Baby Link Up!

    • It is all about building influence. That is in my notes for a future parenting blog! Thanks for stopping by.

  28. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it over at WholeHearted Home this past week.


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