I had my first child very young and coming off a very difficult season with my mother, our relationship was strained. I had my second child just two years later and was ready to seek some help for this whole parenting thing. Seeing as how “help” books are everywhere these days I sought out a few.
One in particular had a tiny piece of advice tucked in the very back that set me free. Not just as a parent, but as a daughter as well. I honestly don’t even remember which book this was, or who wrote it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’m not able to quote it exactly, but it went something like this,
“You will never be able to parent your children perfectly enough so that they won’t have issues. The issue isn’t with your parenting at all, but with the fact that your children have sin nature within them. Even if you parent perfectly your children will still have issues. Not because of you, but because of them.”
For over two years I had been constantly concerned with how the decisions I made would affect my children. Don’t get me wrong, the decisions I make will definitely affect my children, but I was carrying the burden of parenting perfectly so that my children wouldn’t have issues, when there is nothing I can do to keep my children from having issues. Because of the fall, humanity is now born with issues. No matter how perfect an upbringing we have. No matter how innocent our lives. We have issues deep within us.
This means that even perfect parenting will be misunderstood and corrupted by the issues within the child.
It might sound like a downer, but it was such a relief to have the weight of perfect parenting lifted off myself. First of all, I knew I couldn’t measure up to it anyway. And, honestly, without Jesus Christ, the knowledge that my children are gonna be messed up no matter what is a total downer. But with Christ, we know the One who has overcome those issues. We know the One who is overcoming those issues. I was free from having to parent perfectly, something I couldn’t do anyway, and I was free to put it all in the hands of Jesus Christ.
I was also free from blaming my parents for my own issues. I realized that there were probably many things they did as parents that I simply misunderstood or even corrupted myself. There were probably many hurts I attributed to them, that were simply caused by my own fallen nature. I took offense to something that was never meant to offend.
I’m not going all the way to the other extreme, though, so don’t worry. Our actions and decisions as parents do affect our children, and we can genuinely hurt them. However, I’m not addressing that here. I’m speaking to the parent who is being crushed under the burden of raising perfect children by their own perfect parenting. There is no such thing. The sooner we accept that our children are gonna have issues, the sooner we can turn to the One who can handle those issues. We don’t have to be surprised or saddened by our children’s issues, and we don’t have to take their issues personally.
So, to sum up:
- You can’t parent perfectly.
- Your kids are gonna have issues because they have sin nature in them.
- You don’t have to carry the ridiculously heavy burden of parenting perfectly and raising perfect kids. It’s an impossibility anyway.
- If you have believed in Jesus Christ, then you are in the One who has overcome sin nature, and He is in you. You can trust Him with your parenting and with your children.
I have a few more parenting posts on my heart for the near future so hopefully those will round things out a bit, and paint a bigger picture.
Have you carried the burden of parenting perfectly? What helped remove that burden for you? Has it been removed? Does recognizing that sin nature within your children can only be overcome by Jesus Christ and not by your perfect parenting bring freedom to you like it did for me? What about in the direction of your relationship with your parents?