Looking back, few grandparents will say that being a parent was easy. Many, however, will say that parenting has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life.
Others have said that knowing what they know now, they wouldn’t have children again. Some well-known surveys have shown that parental disillusionment is fairly widespread. Newspaper columns and radio and television talk programs continue to show that there’s probably more than a smile behind the following bumper stickers:
- HAPPINESS IS SPENDING YOUR CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE BEFORE THEY DO.
- SUCCESS AS A PARENT IS LIVING LONG ENOUGH TO BE A PROBLEM TO YOUR CHILDREN.
Behind the humor there is heartbreak, sleepless nights, and broken dreams.
The tough part of this subject for any parent is that our children are so close to our hearts. Many of us will quickly acknowledge that nothing is as important as our children. More than a few moms and dads will say that nothing else matters if their children are not happy. Nothing else matters if a son or daughter is sick, or hurt, or afraid.
Much of this parental concern is healthy. It goes with the territory of loving enough to care about your children. At some point, however, the care can also become unhealthy. At some point the worry over a difficult child can become consuming—and a warning of a lost perspective.
Marks Of A Lost Perspective.
Although all mothers and fathers experience moments of parental frustration and anger, many have said they’d be willing to do anything to assure their children’s happiness. It’s not uncommon for parents to wish they could give their own lives for the sake of their child. These are often well-meant expressions of love, and go with the territory of being a mom or dad.
At some point, though, perspective can be lost. Although the concern and heartbreak is understandable, it’s not healthy when a troubled parent lives with the following convictions:
It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way. All too often, parents idealize what it means to be a good mom or dad. Many of us have unrealistic expectations of the parenting process. We assume that if we are good parents we will have good children—now. Such hopes and assurances are not what wise and loving parenting is all about.
Nothing Else Is Important. It is possible not only to idealize the process of parenting, but also to idolize our children. As important as our sons and
daughters are, they are not all-important. We cannot allow them to become the consuming focus of our lives. We cannot afford to let our children’s immature choices come between our relationship with our spouse, or our own Father in heaven.
Our Children’s Problems Reflect Our Mistakes. While we all bequeath to our children our own human nature, it is unwise to assume that our children’s problems are always in proportion to our own mistakes.
In the Old Testament story of Job, a troubled man’s three friends wrongly assumed that what had happened to Job and his children was the result of Job’s own sin. His friends understood the moral principle that “what we plant, we harvest.” But they were wrong in assuming that the problems that came on Job’s family were in proportion to Job’s sin.
If, in our concern for our children, we become aware of our own wrongs, we can do nothing better than to admit our failures and commit to change. But it would be a mistake to think that when we change our ways our children will change as well.
All Hope Is Lost. The experience of Job helps us in another way. In time, he learned that his moments of darkness and despair did not write the last chapter of his life. In time, the God who had been so silent—for His own reasons—did speak. And He spoke with great affection.
Does The Bible Promise Good Results?
One of the most quoted parenting principles of the Bible is found in Proverbs 22:6. There Solomon, the wise King of Israel said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In the Hebrew language this literally says that if you train up (initiate, imbue, consecrate, or dedicate) a child in his own way (with regard for his own temperament and individual needs at each stage of growth or development), when he is old (from a word that meant “bearded” or “mature”) he will not depart from it.
Some take this as a promise. Others believe it is a general rule of wisdom that expresses the amount of influence a parent has on an impressionable child. There is some truth in each view. At the very least, this proverb reflects that if you give a child a good beginning by training him in a manner appropriate to his own distinct needs, then the positive influence of this early training will remain with him for the rest of his life. He will never be able to get away from what the parent has impressed on him. That doesn’t mean the adult child will always comply with his parents’ influence, but he will carry the memory of their training with him until the day he dies.
Overall, the Bible shows that a mature approach to parenting will follow the example of our heavenly Father. He loved as no other parent has ever loved, while also giving His children enough room to make their own choices and mistakes.