How To Be A Great Parent Who Still Messes up Royally Sometimes By: Jessica Mudger March 21, 2021
Noah got drunk in front of his kids. (Genesis chapter 9)
Lot offered up his virgin daughters to some sex-crazed maniacs in order to save godly men. (Genesis chapter 19)
Abraham sent his son and the son’s mother out to the wilderness as basically a death sentence in order to appease his wife. (Genesis chapter 21)
Abraham was ready to sacrifice another son on the altar to please God. (Genesis chapter 22)
Rebekah convinced her son to con his brother out of his birthright. (Genesis chapter 27)
Jesse didn’t invite his youngest son to the banquet where the next king of Israel would be anointed. (1 Samuel chapter 16)
King Saul tried to kill his son’s best friend. Multiple times. (1 Samuel chapter 18)
Mary and Joseph didn’t realize their son was missing for about a day, and only found him after about three. (Luke chapter 2)
Why do I bring all this up? My husband used to joke that he wanted to teach a class called “The Bible After Dark” where he would bring up all the weird and dark parts of scripture that make us go, “Huh?” If you notice, every person I brought up had one thing in common: they were all parents just trying to bring up their kids the best way they knew how. Here’s the understatement of the year: Parenting is hard, and there’s not a single one of us who are perfect at it. Even within the pages of scripture we see examples of parents who, honestly, could be considered good even amid some very questionable parenting moments. Maybe that is one of the reasons God chose to include these accounts. He obviously knows how hard it is to raise children, and how hard parents (especially the really great ones) can be on themselves. So without further ado, I present to you a quick lesson I call, “How To Be A Great Parent Who Still Messes Up Royally Sometimes.” I know, I think it’s catchy, too.
How To Be A Great Parent Who Still Messes Up Royally Sometimes
Give yourself grace. John 1:16 (ESV) tells us, “For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” Nobody knows exactly how to parent your child. Including you. Thankfully, Jesus knows this. We have been given a pretty good idea of how to do it within the Bible, but one verse can apply completely differently to two different children, even within the same family. We need to give ourselves a break.
Stick close to Jesus. The more time you spend with Jesus in prayer, Bible reading, worship, etc. the better you will be at everything you do, including parenting.
Own up to your mistakes to your kids. Your children need to know that you don’t know everything. Actually, once they are teenagers they will figure this out anyway, so you may as well admit it before they come to the conclusion on their own. You will earn loads of respect on their end for coming clean about your flaws. In doing so, you get to teach them the proper way you should have handled a situation. It’s also super important to give them a sincere apology when needed. This is a giant step toward redemptive healing in any relationship, including parent and child.
Get around other parents who you admire and be transparent about how you do things in your house. This will do two things: it will give you ideas of how to improve your own technique based on what has worked for them, and it will also rectify the disillusion that those people are in fact perfect parents. I promise you they aren’t.
Give yourself grace. That’s right. I included this one twice because it’s that important. I think lots of really great parents take on much more responsibility than necessary for the actions of their children. The fact is, we could theoretically do all the “right” things, and our kids could still mess up royally. (Maybe it’s genetic?) The best quote I ever heard is by a person I don’t remember. If you know who said this, please tell me so I can give him or her proper credit. The quote is, “We are responsible TO our kids, but not FOR our kids.” This means that we give them the best of what we can, but they still get to decide what they do with their own lives. I know. Cringe. It’s true, though. Don’t necessarily evaluate your parenting skills based on your children’s ability to receive them.
In conclusion, even the best parents in the world are still only human. It is not our ability to get things right that makes us worthy; but the fact that Jesus made us worthy that gives us the ability to get things right. Click here to return to the Parenting Column