When last I checked, there was only one child ever born of a virgin. When last I checked, there was only one child that received the angelic announcement that he would be the Son of the Most High. When last I checked, only one mother and father got to look at their child and say, “That’s my boy, he’s perfect.” When last I checked, there was only one Jesus and He wasn’t one of my children and He’s not one of yours.
This provides me with a sad realization. No matter how hard I try, no matter how good I parent, no matter what choices I make, my children are going to end up being sinners just like me. I hate to break it to you, your kids are going to end up being sinners just like you.
Since before I was married (14 years and 3 months ago), I’ve witnessed and been involved in discussions with people about parenting. Sadly, these discussions almost always end up in fights. I’ve seen this increase since my kids arrived on the scene (12 years and 1 month ago). In fact, the longer I witness these conversations, the more amazed I become at how silly parents can be in their arguments. We’ll argue over natural childbirth versus hospital birth with pain meds. We’ll argue over nursing versus bottle-feeding. We’ll argue over cloth versus disposable diapers. We’ll argue over co-sleeping versus crib sleeping. We’ll argue over home-schooling versus public-schooling. We’ll argue over memory verses versus no memory verses (did you keep that one straight?) We’ll argue over slings vs. strollers. We argue over these things tooth and toenail as if our very souls depended on these things even though scripture never once tells us which of these things is the right way to parent.
WHY?!!! Why is there all of this parental arguing?
I think I’ve finally figured it out. We are all in a big competition. We all believe what we are doing is right. Therefore, if someone else made a different choice, they are wrong. But even worse than that, we assume they feel the same way. They must think they are right and we are wrong. We can’t have that now can we? Oh no, we have to prove to them that they are wrong and if they want to be right they have to be like us. We won’t be satisfied until they come groveling to us, admitting our superiority as parents. So we add argument on top of argument. We twist scriptures. We find a biblical principle and then coat it with our human reasoning and act like our reasoning is as good as God’s command.
Through it all we are hanging on to see how our kids turn out so we can prove our way was best. Sadly, while on the outside we offer condolences when some other child really screws up, on the inside we rejoice with sadistic glee saying over and over again, “I told you so, I told you so.” How sad.
What I have discovered is good parents raise bad kids sometimes and bad parents raise good kids sometimes. But no parents raise perfect kids anytime.
Here’s the deal. I don’t care if you nurse or bottle feed, cloth or disposably diaper, sling or stroller, co-sleep or crib sleep, homeschool or publicly school your kids, they are all going to sin. There’s only one Jesus and He’s not any of our kids. So, please, quit trying to act like you are perfectly parenting your children so they will grow up to be perfect. Quit trying to act like if my children are going to be okay when they grow up, I have to make all the same choices you do. I don’t mind discussions that weigh pros and cons, but please, cut out the demanding that yours is the only way to raise healthy kids.
Please, don’t misunderstand. I realize we parents are a huge influence in our children’s lives. I realize we need to provide a great example for them so they might have their heads screwed on straight when they grow up. I’m not saying we take an approach that says our kids are going to sin anyway so just let them and even provide them the paraphernalia. All I’m saying is please, humble yourself a bit to recognize that your children won’t be perfect. There is no way you will raise them up to be the sinless child you want them to be. With that realization in mind, cut the parents around you who think differently about some things a little slack. Maybe, just maybe, their kids will end up being sinners just like yours.
Finally, with this in mind. Cut yourself some slack. You aren’t going to be the perfect parent. Neither am I. Your soul’s salvation doesn’t depend on raising the perfect kids. Release some of that pressure, quit worrying about what everyone else will think about you when your kids mess up. Quit training your kids in ways that say they have to be perfect. Quit biting their heads off when they aren’t. Instead, lay the groundwork that tells them what to do when they aren’t perfect. But that gets into another post.
Go home, do your best. Let other parents do their best without all your busybodying. Rejoice with those who rejoice in their parenting and weep with those who weep. Pray for every parent you know, not that they’ll be just like you, but that they’ll be what God wants them to be.