We walked into Publix and the angelic halos shone brightly around my family. The kids were gentle and kind to one another. No one broke anything. The little guy even kept his hands out of his nose AND his pants. Naturally I walked out the door feeling like supermom. My walk to the car boasted of years of hard work and training right there on display for the whole world.
As I backed out of the parking spot my swelling good-parent-pride was popped by the piercing needle of fighting. Yep, just moments later one kid stepped on another kid’s foot and those angelic halos were tossed aside for flying fists and the spewing of hateful words.
Seriously, I didn’t know if I should cry or laugh. But it wasn’t funny. In fact, it wasn’t even a little funny.
It seemed that my kids had no trouble impressing the patrons at Publix, their Sunday school teachers, and even our neighbors. But as soon as the doors were closed, they had no need or desire to keep up the “good kid” act.
The truth is- this was all pretty much my fault. Yeah, I know, like most people I didn’t want to admit it, but I wanted to look like a good parent. I didn’t want the whole world to think that I was a complete failure. In fact, in some ways I had set this whole game up with my “don’t-you-embarrass-me” training for all public appearances.
The truth is- I was guilty of control parenting.
I didn’t do it on purpose and even typing it hurts. I could even make a good biblical case to defend my desire to see my children behave this way and it would be partly true. We should indeed be a good example and witness to others when we are in public. Um, but that same example and witness doesn’t end there.
If you’ve been a reader for a while you know that once I came to realize this incredible dichotomy I started working hard to change the relationship that my kids had with each other behind closed doors. I even wrote a 4-week Bible study helping them to see how important this relationship was.
But the true change had to happen in my own heart. You see, I was believing some pretty nasty lies about this parenting gig and I fear that you might be too. God showed me 3 parenting truths that changed everything:
1. I am unable to do this job- only God can.
2. I will never be in complete control of the people my children are exposed to.
3. I will never be in complete control of the circumstances my children face.
Sounds drastic, but it’s totally true. God didn’t call me to do this job because He was too busy. This is a partnership and He is the primary decision-maker. He controls every situation my children face. He controls who they meet and who speaks into their lives. He has called me to manage the day-to-day here, but it’s not without challenges.
Oh how beautiful it would be if we could truly see God’s heart on this one. Yes, He loves my children (and yours) more than we could possibly love them. He has their best interest in mind every single time. So we can rest assured that we don’t have to be a “good parent.” It may help us look better in front of others, but it will NEVER change the hearts of our children.
And since we don’t control the people and situations they face, we ought to be far more concerned with equipping them with biblical truth that permeates their lives, don’t you think?
So for the record, I’m totally ok with other people seeing that I’m not a perfect parent. I’m ok with my kids making mistakes. And I’m ok with the difficult circumstances that invade our lives. I’m ok with it all because I know that in every single one of those situations, it’s a deeper and broader opportunity to share the love of Christ with everyone involved.
And I’m ok with it because I know that when we look “perfect” most of the time, the only thing it really does is discourage someone else who is struggling just to keep her head above water.
What do you think?