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By Nancy Kennedy
When my oldest daughter was 3, I tore off the stiff back cover of her Precious Moments coloring book.
Her dark brown eyes wide with horror and grief, she cried, “You just broke my heart!”
It was then that I knew for sure: I am a bad mother.
I hope that my now-adult daughters would vigorously and fiercely disagree. It’s just that, for most of us who are mothers, if we’re honest, we can’t count the number of times we wouldn’t give our third right eyeball to rewind the tape and do some things over again.
A recent Christianity Today article explored “the Myth of the Perfect parent: Why the best parenting techniques don’t produce Christian children.” In it, the author quoted Christian family psychologist John Rosemond, who said he frequently hears from parents who feel they’ve failed when their children have problems or don’t turn out the way they had hoped.
Rosemond said their feelings of failure stem from the “Christianized version of the cultural myth that parenting produces the child and that Christian parenting techniques produce godly children.”
While it’s true that the Bible is filled with practical and spiritual directives for both parents and children, and if we follow them our lives will go more smoothly than if we don’t, what you or I cannot do is force or will a child to love God.
We can possibly get children to outwardly conform and obey, and I’m all for teaching manners and etiquette and common courtesy and imposing boundaries and standards. But we don’t have the ability to produce godliness or godly character in our children—or even in ourselves—no matter how diligent or sincere we may be.
That belongs to God our Father alone.
As the CT author pointed out, “It is only God to whom true parenthood belongs. The rest of us are impostors, shocked and dazed by the whole experience.”
Want to grow kids God’s way? Start by remembering that God doesn’t call us to be perfect parents. Instead he calls us to be faithful, faithfully coming to him with our weaknesses, our tiredness, our frustrations, and fears, our shattered dreams, our headaches and heartaches and our wanting to quit, and letting him do for us what we cannot do.
Not only that, he can take even our biggest blunders and our children’s poorest choices and redeem them in such a way as to advance his kingdom and make us fit for it.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.