I’ve been talking to a lot of clients lately who said they never got the manual on parenting. You know, “Parenting for Dummies.” That’s because it doesn’t exist, I tell them, as much as we would all consume a book like that if it did! Parenting, by far, is the most joyful role we have, and certainly the most challenging. No matter whether your first born or second born was the perfect angel, you weren’t ready for Lucifer. Just kidding! Or maybe it was the opposite, and you stopped after the firstborn. Sometimes, I tell them, it’s a natural and passing phase. For instance, when I was in the child care business, the parents of my students would often fret over their toddler who was biting, which is common during the Terrible Twos. I found it much more offensive when the parent of the bitten one asked me point blank if the biter had been tested for HIV. Argh! Then there were the helicopter/rescue parents, who had to make sure they did everything, bought everything, and wrote everything for their kids, including their college essay. One time I had to leave a Christmas party because the moms could not stop talking about what tricks they had to pull to get their daughters sparkly jeans before the store sold out. Sad but true. Truthfully, I made a lot of my own mistakes as I navigated the murky waters of parenting, most especially during the teenage years. I am so grateful that God carried me through them.
I vividly remember one episode when my oldest daughter still wasn’t home from a concert at 2:00 am. I tried the cell phone. No answer. I was literally in a tug of war with my anger and my fear. My body went from pacing to praying on my knees for her safety. Just about the time I was ready to call the police, I heard a still, small voice in my ear that said, “Don’t you remember what you did to your parents? When you backpacked around Europe and didn’t call them for weeks?” Oops. I’m pretty sure that was the voice of God, and I was so grateful for it, as I heard the lock turn and my daughter walk through the door, safely. On another occasion, a different daughter was having a bit of an authority issue and seemed to think that the state and federal laws did not apply to her – and thankfully I did not kill her, because I hear murder is a felony in Virginia. Just kidding, again. While I don’t condone a lack of submitting to authority, in that case I heard another still, but BIGGER voice say, “Don’t you remember things you did, when you did not submit to my authority? Don’t you think I was disappointed by them? Yet I forgave you. I was merciful to you. I love you.” Wow! That was convicting.
Now that the kids are grown, we always tease them with threats about what comes around, goes around, and assure them they will experience the ups and downs of parenting. The truth is, they will have to explore and experiment with their own parenting techniques, and maybe by then there will be a manual published (wishful!). I only hope that they will reflect on their own past rebellion, and the parallel that I have come to see between parent/child and God/us. The fact is, the manual actually has been written, and in our hands, for over 2000 years. That, plus that the fact that God is not a helicopter parent, and allows us to stumble and fail at times, gives me great relief. Aren’t you thankful that we have a heavenly Father to model parenting for us? He is the perfect mix of discipline and mercy.
If you are struggling as a parent, or don’t know where to set boundaries, give us a call. At Reflections, we have therapists and coaches who can come alongside you and help you in the journey of parenting. We’d love to share with you a biblical perspective on parenting and pray for you in your challenges and struggles. Call us at 941-301-8420. www.reflectionscc.com