Do you feel like you’re a rubbish parent?
Do you feel like you are damaging your children?
Let me tell you about a couple I know of.
The wife was only about 13 or 14 and was naïve and inexperienced.
She married a husband who was much older than her and was a manual labourer who only just managed to keep them off the bread line.
They were so poor they couldn’t even afford a goat that is the traditional celebration meal for their first child.
For most of their life they lived in a “dodgy” town which the rest of their country looked down upon. In addition, due to an incident they became social outcasts in their community.
This incident also nearly caused the whole marriage to be called off – in fact the husband had to be persuaded before he’d even consider going ahead.
So clearly the couple had weaknesses and lived in an area and environment that wasn’t brilliant for bringing up kids. Their parenting wasn’t much better.
They lost their eldest child and only noticed after a whole day! It took a further three days of searching before they found him!
In addition, they didn’t get their eldest child – in fact, they thought he had lost his mind and said as much in public and tried to take charge of him.
These two incidents show some serious weaknesses as parents and I question anyone who thought they were suitable for adoption.
Yet this was the couple God entrusted with His beloved Son.
These were the imperfect parents who were raising His perfect Son.
And just like they messed up we are going to mess it up.
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t going to be one of those motivational posts that say “don’t worry about it – God has trusted you with your children so you must have what it takes and everything will be fine.” That would do you and your children a disservice.
We are going to mess up yet God still calls us to be parents. How do we move forward in such a contradiction?
Recall that as parents, we are only meant to be an image of the perfect parent – we don’t have to be perfect (and indeed can’t be) our job is to apologise when we get it wrong and point to the perfect one.
For example, I regularly say “I’m sorry I messed up and lost my temper. Daddy God is so much more patient than your earthly daddy. Will you pray for me that God will make me more like Him.”
Similarly, when my children mess up, I forgive them and pray with them that the Father would transform them too – we are all on a journey together of being transformed from glory to glory.
Whilst saying sorry is helpful there are still consequences of our mistakes that a sorry can’t fix. But, we have a God who can redeem our mistakes. There are so many times I have prayed for my children as they slept that he would undo the damage of my mistakes and He has been so gracious. He delights in restoring all things and transforming them into the likeness of His perfect Son. Despite the illnesses, brokenness and dysfunctions my wife and I have walked through our children are becoming whole.
Furthermore God knows that we can’t do it on our own and He doesn’t expect us to do so. The resources of Heaven (including wisdom) are available so that we can carry out this most important of tasks if we ask for them.
“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” CS Lewis
So when you mess up and the Accuser starts giving you grief don’t seek solace in platitudes – seek the forgiveness that is freely available through Jesus’ blood and the transforming power that is freely available for you and your children through our union with Him.
Father, thank you that there is grace. Thank you that everything we need is available in You. Give me my daily bread for parenting my children and forgive my sins as I forgive my children’s sins. For Yours is the power to transform situations and the glory that comes out of your redemption, for ever and ever. Amen.
If you want a light-hearted look at Mary and Joseph as parents I did a short skit on this:
Other related posts are “God will never give you more than you can handle (and other myths)”, “Nothing is impossible” and “Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate” where I share more of our journey into parenting and God’s grace.