So many times in outreach we meet people who are where they are as a result, in part, of a broken relationship with a parent. Now, at once all of us parents bristle, “don’t be blaming me for my kids choices” or the others of us that with deep regret and some sense of ownership feel perpetually guilty and overwhelmed at the poor parenting job we did, especially when our kids are not doing so well. What to do? Here’s some thoughts for ya:
1. We are all bad parents – I know that’s hard for some to choke down but you HAVE messed up your kids. To cut us a little slack, we may have done the best we could with what we knew at the time, but even then there is no such thing as a perfect parent and that means your imperfect parenting has negatively affected your kids.
2. Your kids all have wounds from you that need healing – if you look at your kid’s negative actions and attitudes many of them stem from reactions to wounds that you caused your children as you parented them imperfectly. Your kid has a bad self-esteem, your kid has an anger problem, or the way your kid “acts out” many times stems from your relationship to them. And your kids need to be healed from your mistakes in parenting.
3. God fixes parents – Just last month my 26 year old brought up an old wound that I had given him. When he was in the hospital I said it was the best time we’d had in a long time because he had been slowed down enough to share some quality time. He jokingly said that as he grew up I wasn’t there when he needed me either and was always “helping someone else”. Wow! A lump went up in my throat and right there in the presence of his close friends I confessed my sin of neglect and told him how that that was one was one of my deepest regrets in parenting him, and I asked him to forgive me. I love my son with all my heart but I sinned against my son and wounded him in his childhood. I am not a perfect parent. Jesus is. And Jesus used that holy moment to bring healing to me, Jeffrey’s imperfect father.
4. God heals kids – No matter what we’ve done to our kids in our imperfection God can and will heal as they trust in Him. I suffered much at the hands of my earthly father and God has over time healed me from much of that suffering. Did he do the best he could with what he had? Yes! But he wasn’t perfect and I suffered. The good news is that on that glorious weekend long ago Jesus bore in His body my bad parenting and my parents bad parenting and now lives to set me free from the ill effects of it.
Friend, don’t hide from the fact that you’ve blown it and your kids have suffered. Own it, grieve it, confess it, reconcile it. But never ever think that what sin has done God in Christ can’t forgive and heal and restore back to new.
I hope that what transacted between my son and I will help him too, time will tell, but know this, God was so loving and merciful to grant to me on that special day some healing from my regrets and sins.