I have said it, too. Caleb makes a mistake. I spout off, “I can’t believe you did that!” Or maybe an alternate derivative – “Why did you do that?”
Don’t we know? Maybe we don’t.
I was in a training seminar this week when, as an example of how even from an early age we look for someone else to blame, the teacher showed a video of a little three year old girl blaming her 8 month old sister of drawing high up on a chair (when the little one couldn’t even stand). It is in us. Selfishness. And when confronted, the selfish act of deflecting the issue onto someone else. It is our tendency. We make a selfish choice. We want to cover it up and hide.
The Garden story is the story of all of us.
So, why do we parent as though it isn’t?
Do we grow out of this? Can we self-actualize our way out of our selfish tendencies, our relationally destructive choices? Tell Jesus that is possible. His nail-scars declare otherwise.
Stay with me. I am guilty of this just like any other parent. Having brain lapses as though my kids shouldn’t make mistakes. You may have never thought of it, but if you parent with this “why did you do that” emphasis, you will sow the seeds either of self-sufficiency or self-destruction. Either that child will reap an air of “I am okay and don’t need anyone else,” or she will reap the stinch of shame and isolation wondering why she can’t ever get it right.
Do either of these welcome the Gospel?
No wonder God had to fit into skin to do something about it. We would have ignored him altogether or just hidden in shame. John, in chapter one of his Gospel, actually wrote that this is what we did.
So, if that was not the way to welcome Jesus, then why would we parent with the mindset and habits that cultivate for that level of self-absorption?
We as parents must beg Jesus to transform our default statement from “I can’t believe you did that” to “I know why you did that.” Furthermore, we know the One who did something about why we do that.
Are we parenting our kids to be perfect or are we parenting them with a perfect love?
Paul declared in Romans 2 that kindness leads to repentance. Repentance is turning from the path I am on to walk a different path. We need to repent as parents of our default mindset, and then parent in environments that encourage repentance, simply because our kids will always need to practice repentance and confession all of their lives. Just like we as parents do. And that environment that encourages repentance is one of perfect love.
Perfect love is not perfect parenting. Rather, it is parenting with a default of grace and forgiveness and multiple chances and ongoing training and expectation of mistakes made rather than perfect behavior. AND, we are in no way capable of this perfect love unless as parents we ourselves are living dependent upon the One who loves us perfectly.
Speaking of living dependently, may I offer a word of caution?
We must be careful of buying into the lie of American culture called “self-esteem.”
Are we parenting our kids toward self-esteem or God-esteem?
Hopefully the latter. Because anything prefixed with the word “self” seems to me to be referring to something that was nailed and buried. I don’t need to believe in myself. I need to believe in the One who believes in me. I don’t need to accept Him as much as I need to accept the truth that He has accepted me. Jesus, the Gospel incarnate, declares it!
WE ARE WORTH DYING FOR TO GOD.
As parents, may we remember that being worth dying for to God implies the need for sacrifice. For sin to be covered. For selfishness to be remedied.
We know why we make selfish choices. And we know why our kids do, too. Let’s not direct them toward expected perfection. Let’s introduce them to the One who loved perfectly, in the midst of our imperfections.
My brother pulled me aside when I was in high school during a time when I was especially down because of personal sin and selfishness. He reminded me that sorrow for that sin was healthy. But moping was not. And he challenged me that expecting to make myself unselfish was not healthy either. Rather, I should smile instead of feeling shame. I should smile, because my selfish insufficiencies were glaring evidence of my desperation for the All-Sufficient One. I should smile, a smile of confession, that I need Jesus.
And He met me in my need.
May we go with Him to meet our kids there, too.
So we considered when our kids make mistakes today. But what about all the mistakes we are gonna make as parents? Let’s look at that tomorrow…