“I’ve failed as a parent.”
Ever thought that? I’m fairly certain we all have at some point.
I’m referring specifically to when our children are in their teens to when they’re grown and on their own.
This can be a brutal time of parenting.It was Mark Twain who quipped,
“When a child becomes a teenager, put him in a barrel and feed him through a hole in the lid. When they turn sixteen, plug the hole!”
You’ve done your best but, for whatever reason, your child chooses a destructive pattern of behavior, bringing pain on themselves – and their parents.
What happened? Did we fail as a parent?
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Sure, there are times we can pinpoint where we blew it. Scripture records numerous examples as well:
Jacob’s name was eventually changed by God to “Israel.” It’s the very name of the nation that exists still today. Yet, Jacob was guilty of showing ongoing favoritism toward his son, Joseph, which instilled vicious jealously within Jacob’s brothers.
The high priest, Eli, failed to discipline his corrupt sons, which led to their death.
But, scripture also records stories of parents who, for all we know from scripture, did most things right – and still ended up with rebellious kids. For example:
- Samson’s parents pleaded with Samson not to be an idiot. Samson wouldn’t listen.
- The prophet, Samuel – Israel’s final, and perhaps greatest, judge – had sons who thought they knew better. That didn’t end up well either.
Here’s my point for parents who continually blame themselves for their grown children’s poor decisions in life:
But, condemnation is from the devil, never from God.
As in Samuel’s case, his children were old enough to be on their own. They knew better. And they still chose foolishly. We must be careful not to blame ourselves for the sins of our children.
Pray for them? Always be there for them? Always love them? Yes, yes, yes.
And, should the Lord reveal to us any way that we may have contributed to a specific destructive pattern of behavior in our child – we must do whatever we can to make that right. That may begin with anything from an apology to professional counseling. It’s never too late to do the right thing.
But, don’t live your life feeling like a failure.
Failure is an event – not a person.
One last thing. To all children out there still in the care of your parents:
I tell students all the time,
“Ease up on your parents. We’re just old teenagers. I know you think we’ve never been your age before. But, we have. And although we’re decades older than you, believe it or not, we have feelings just like yours. We have good days, hard days, and terrible days. Sometimes we blow it. And sometimes we get it right. You didn’t come with instructions.” And then I tell them, “Despite our endless flaws, no one on the planet loves you more than your parents.”
Love to you all, Nick