Are you struggling in your parenting role? Are you looking for solutions or just some hope? Do you need someone to tell you that you are not getting it all wrong and that your children will be okay? Me too!
Common Parenting Pitfalls
Let’s look at some common issues. Do you agree with one or more of these statements?
- Raising children is hard.
- I feel absolutely inadequate, and I fail daily.
- I lose my temper, give my kids the silent treatment, and dish out consequences without follow-through .
- I get sucked into their drama and almost lose my mind trying to gain or maintain control.
- One thing goes wrong and I freak out and start to worry that I’ve ruined my children.
- I worry about their decisions, safety, and future to the point of distraction and/or anxiety.
The Truth about Parenting
If one or more of these statements are true, then you are a lot like me. They are all accurate descriptions of my parenting. If this was a real job, and I just shared all of this with my boss, I am sure I would be fired. What was God thinking giving me half a dozen children to shape and mold and send out into the world? Did my mom feel this way? How did she survive?
There are some days that are easier, but there are days and stages of parenting that are brutal. When I find myself completely confused, exhausted, discouraged, outraged, or overwhelmed, it’s time to stop and remember some truths.
- I am not alone. I have a Father who is perfect in all of his ways.
- I have the Holy Spirit as a counselor to guide me in His wisdom.
- God says if we ask for wisdom, he gives it freely.
- God is bigger than my messy parenting.
- God can redeem what has been lost.
- I love my children, not perfectly, but purposefully.
- My children’s mistakes are not all a reflection of mine as their parent.
- Our kids forgive easily.
- I could do everything perfectly, and my children could still screw it all up because of their own free will.
- I cannot control.
- I can influence.
Right here is where I hit the pause button yesterday when writing this post. I left my laptop and these words to finish the day’s parenting list. It seemed every effort was met with resistance or disaster.
What do we do when it all goes wrong?
An awful day
On the way to my son’s appointment to address his anxiety, the car goes nuts and my phone dies. I have no GPS to get me to this new doctor. We had to stop at a business and ask a receptionist to google and print directions for us. Pretty sure the therapist thought I was the one with anxiety.
Throw in a huge, emotional fight with my first born, missing ingredients for dinner, a trip to the store where I left the car running, (I must actually be losing my mind because I did that Sunday as well during church) and 100 other annoying things my children squeezed in between 8:00-10:00. Needless to say parenting did not go as planned and I went to bed utterly exhausted and in tears.
A new day dawning
So I was writing to you about parenting and stopped long enough to experience it at its worst. I am here to tell you that today is a new day. God’s mercies are truly new each day and he is the faithful one in it all. God is not surprised by my challenges in parenting, nor is he angry when I fail. He fills in the gaps. That has to be true or I would not have lived through my parents’ mistakes to be here to write an inspirational blog. Nothing personal Mom and Dad. We are all messed up.
It’s not all dependent on you
What I am saying, tired parent, is this: your child’s emotional well-being, academic success, and spiritual health is not all depending on you. You and I can parent purposefully, pray for our children, and then entrust them to God. There is no scenario in which we can perfectly parent our kids using tried and true strategies resulting in perfect children.
You and I live our life overcoming our own parents’ shortcomings. That’s what they did and that is what our children will do. In the process of finding healing from our messy journeys, we find ourselves in need of a Savior. He gives us our new identity as his child. Do children come from horrible homes scarred and broken? Yes, but there is no perfect home, and there is no guarantee that our best parenting will produce great results.
Wisdom from God
Many believers think that Proverbs 22:6 is a promise from God that if we do our part, our children are guaranteed to turn out right. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If this were true, we could raise robots. Some parents have believed this as a promise, not a proverb, and heaped guilt upon themselves for their prodigal son or daughter.
The wisdom in that proverb is from God. Raising children in his ways is our only chance. It’s just not a guarantee because these kids of ours have their own choices to make in a flawed world carrying baggage dating back to the garden of Eden.
No matter your beliefs, I think all parents (especially those of teenagers) would agree that parenting is no cake walk. Every stage has its own challenges and every child is unique. We are so guilty of judging fellow parents and giving them advice. Stop! Let’s just link arms, cry on each other’s shoulders, and know that our role as parents is huge and requires much grace.
The grace and hope of Jesus is where we need to rest. It’s where we parent from and the filter through which we see ourselves. His grace sounds to good to be true, but it is. As forgiven children, we put our hope in our faithful Father to make us whole and lead our children to wholeness. Yes, we fail and this world does not make our efforts easier. The enemy has plans too, and so we fight this parenting battle purposefully but not perfectly.