Credit and Blame in the Parenting Game
There are people in this world who simply should not be parents.
I'm not here to write about them.
I've just got to say a word about the rest of us.
The large majority of us.
We are parents who...
...send our children to private school, or public school, or school them at home.
...feed our children an organic, meatless diet or drive-thru McDonalds or serve cereal for dinner.
...spend countless hours on the sports fields or in on mountain trails or theater seats, watching them figure out themselves in their extracurricular pursuits.
...discipline in a traditional sense and those who have a live and let live approach.
...hover and helicopter, free-range it and focus on outcomes.
...let them have their first phone at five years old and those who make them wait until they can pay for their own.
...have chore charts and organized domestic lifestyles, bitter souls who have forsaken said charts and those who never even tried.
...potty trained in the womb and those who make the toddler beg to pee in the potty(and all those in between).
...those who worked full time, employed daycare, missed some milestones, and those who stayed at home, often pulled out their hair and saw it all go down.
All of us, so different.
All of us, approaches uniquely our own.
All of us, hoping, praying, working for the best possible outcome.
All of us...without a guarantee.
In parenting, while there might be a few "good practices", there is no golden ticket.
We are raising neither reflections of ourselves
nor robotic beings for whom we maneuver with a remote control.
Early in my parenting career I was told "Neither take too much credit for your child's successes nor too much blame for their failings". It has stuck in my spirit.
The older I get and the more I experience not only my own home life but now (working in a high school office), the more this statement comes to life.
Our children possess their own wills.
They have been given their own choices to make.
We can do what we can while they're little, but do not rest your laurels/hopes/dreams on the way you are parenting. Rest them on God, who knows your child--their vices and virtues--far more than you do. Pray for them, do your (imperfect) best and know that they very well, for all your efforts, make decisions that will leave you in tears, on your knees and wondering what on earth you did wrong.
This past week I have seen a mother weep for the one, major poor decision her daughter made that will impact the rest of her year. I have heard a father request prayer for a son whose rebellion seems a million miles beyond their reach. I have seen one of my children stand up for the vulnerable and one of them be unkind to another. I have a child who is always looking out for me and another who seems at times, devoted to getting me zipped into a white coat/behind bars. This parenting thing, no matter how you go about it, is HARD sometimes. It is also worthwhile and the thing that grow us (the parents) up perhaps even more than the child.
We are moms and dads who...
...fall down and get back up again.
...put an arm of support around the other mom or dad whose child is messing up big time and saying "this could be me" and "you're an amazing parent in this moment".
...know that there is a Divine and specific plan for our children and we pray they have eyes to see and the will to follow it. We know it might be messy before it gets good.
...acknowledge we are not God, and because we're not, we'll mess up and do this raising of people imperfectly. We do our best, pray for mercy and enjoy the small victories--on our part and theirs-- when they happen.
And most of all, we celebrate the small (and big) victorious along with the crash and burn failures with open hands, knowing that while we are instrumental, we are not the conductors of the people God has given us to raise.
I hope you find a little comfort in that like I do.