I don’t know any parent who gets through it all, looks back and says, “Man, I nailed that in every area – every aspect!” You interview parents who are done with that chapter and they say something like this, “Well, I made a lot of mistakes…” or “Well, I had one kid there that really was a challenge,” or “Well, I sometimes wonder what we did wrong…”
Just as an experiment, ask your own parents. Text or email them this question right now, “Do you think you were good at parenting?” (Be careful that you don’t just leave that question hanging there with them. You’ll need to follow up with a “thank you for all you did.”)
Do you feel like you know what you’re doing as a parent? I don’t believe any of us do! Seriously, I think we’re all kind of winging it.
When my first born child was 2, I distinctly remember saying to myself one day, “I thought I’d be better at this. I mean, it’s something I’ve always longed for. I thought I’d just be good at it.”
If you’re single and you think parenting would be easier with someone, it’s not. And if you’re married and you think it sure would be easier if you didn’t have your spouse along, it’s not. You see, I’ve parented on both sides of the fence. And they are both tough. “Tough Parenting” isn’t a marital status, it’s just tough. So, if you’re thinking about changing your marital status and that it would be easier…you’re just trading one set of problems for another.
I would guess that most of us would define ”successful parenting” as kids turn out great, I’m not worried about them and I don’t feel guilty about anything.
That’s just not gonna happen. Never has. Never will.
Think about this: The most perfect parent there was – GOD – was not successful.
These kids – they are problems. Oh, they’re cute when their little. Thank the Lord they’re cute. But they are a TON of work. And the teenagers – whew! They’re a different kind of work. But they aren’t cute anymore, they don’t say funny things, they eat a whole lot more and they still smell bad.
But by then, you’re crazy in love with them, so you’re kinda stuck with these problems.
Sometimes, they make you want to pull your hair out, you spend every night of their 4th grade year working on long division, you’ve spend a horrible amount of time watching movies over and over and over (that you wouldn’t have normally wasted your time on), some have tried to run away, they pout, they cry. They break your lamps with balls that aren’t supposed to be in the house. (I mean, seriously, you can’t have anything nice for about 15 years!) You spend time in the ER. They come to you at 9:00 at night and tell you that by tomorrow morning, they have to have a replica of the Jefferson Memorial built. You work hard to limit their time on the computer, you worry about how many video games they’re playing or what they’re eating. And they take Pam cooking spray and a lighter and video shenanigans in the kitchen, only to show you the video of said shenanigans when you get home from work – laughing hysterically. Oh, and “By the way, Mom, I forgot to tell you that I was invited to the prom last week.”
On top of all of this, you don’t know what you’re doing. …and you feel guilty about something all the time.
Why is it that we are so excited when someone tells us they’re going to have a baby? People who are struggling with infertility, spend thousands of dollars to get pregnant or adopt. Grandparents – who should know better by now – are crying with joy…!
What is this innate drive to have children? Why are they such problems? Why are we still so crazy crazy in love with these kids? We’d gladly take their place whenever they’re hurt. It starts with those vaccinations. Then kids who are mean to them at school. And when they’ve gotten their heart broken – oh, we want to take their place so bad. How do you explain that about these creatures that spill orange Gatorade on your new carpet?
Do you realize that in the perfect world, there were no children? Think about that.
Back in the Garden of Eden there were only adults. No kids. After the sin in the garden, God gave them kids. And the kids started arguing and there was the first murder.
So, I started to think, why would God set up this system of having kids? I mean after the sin in the garden, he could’ve chosen to populate the earth in so many different ways. Maybe they’d sprout out of the ground or walk out of the ocean every season. I don’t know – he’s God. I’m not trying to say that I know God’s intention, but there’s got to be something here. Why children? Why give mankind these things that they’re not going to know what to do with? And worry about the job they’re doing. And still love love love them.
You see I think “successful parenting” is really “faithful” parenting. God doesn’t call us to be successful parents. He calls us to be faithful to Him. To model a good life and faith toward God and a response to whispers from Him. We are gonna screw up. And even we screw up minimally, there are no guarantees with our kids.
We all know some awesome parent. You know, they’ve got everything together it seems. They are engaging with their kids, they’re godly parents, they have resources to give their kids lots of opportunities, the family is intact. Great parents! And yet the kids turn out terrible – or temporarily go on a stupid spree. Sometimes lasting for years. And you wonder, “How in the world…?” On the flip side, you know kids that grow up in horrible homes, horrible environments. Never a mention of God, lots of mistreatment, neglect and abuse. And they turn out awesome. And we think, “How did you come out of that so great?” Don’t get me wrong. I think being a faithful parent means planting them in the richest soil you can. But ultimately you cannot write their story and you can’t change their hearts.
So, back to the question, “Why did God do this kid thing?” What if… what if this whole kid thing was not so much about God’s concern for how great my kids turn out. But more about me leaning into Him and being so desperate for him throughout the process. Maybe that’s what this whole thing is about. Maybe that’s why no one has every really mastered it.
Maybe parenting is that way by design.
Tell me more. Do you feel like you’re winging it? What areas are you “nailing it” and what areas do you feel like you have no clue what you’re doing?