Last night, we were visiting with some of our very good friends. In our conversation, we talked about what it means to be a mom and dad. At some point, many of us come to the (sometimes startling) realization that we are not perfect parents. We may come to this conclusion when we see the mistakes that we have made or when we have to face the mistakes that our children make.
After working to raise two children over the last 21 years, I think that I can say that our kids had good parents, but–they did not have perfect parents. Not at all! I cringe when I think of some of the mistakes that I have made with each of our children. At times I over reacted. At times I allowed my own pain and frustration with life to impact my behavior at home. Yet, by the grace of God, Charlotte and I worked to be faithful to these two children. That is no guarantee, however, that they will always make good, wise, Godly choices.
The following are some warnings that I give to parents of younger children:
- Beware of being more concerned with how your family looks than with the reality of your family. I have known too many families who look real good to the people around them, but up close, their lives are a mess. I am more impressed with moms and dads who are more concerned about doing the right thing, given the circumstances that they are in.
- Beware of seeking perfection instead of faithfulness. Seeking perfection only leads to pride and a sense of self-sufficiency ("Didn’t we raise a good family"). Instead, we need to seek faithfulness, knowing that we desperately need the grace of God if we are going to survive this.
- Beware of thinking that you will never make mistakes like other people. Hopefully, you are learning from the mistakes of others. That is a good thing. But please don’t think that your child rearing days are going to be with out failure. There is no guarantee that my children (or yours) will not make bad choices.
- Beware of thinking that you can control your children’s lives. I’m sorry. You can’t. Perhaps you can force them to comply externally when they are young. However, they may be rebelling internally.
What does this mean? This means that you and I must depend upon the grace of God to rear our children. We need to give grace to other parents who are seeking to rear God-fearing children but who are not perfect parents. After all, God’s first two children on this earth, Adam and Eve, failed. Yet, there is no hint in Scripture that God in some way failed them.
May God have mercy on us all.