On Learning To Parent

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If you wish to learn parenting, the best example is God. He loves his children, no matter what, but He does not lose either his judgment or common sense about them. Unfortunately many parents tend to love without either detachment to judge wisely or reason to measure soundly. The love of God contains an enduring love with a streak of tough reality in it. If you lose that sense of spiritual reality, parenting can drive you crazy. However, parenting is also a great joy and privilege

But be aware of this: No matter what you do with children, they are going to rebel at times. This is part of nature. Also, children always think they are older than they really are and tend to make decisions that way. That pattern of wanting to be big boys and girls when they are little boys and girls goes on forever. But also adults usually think of their children as several years younger than they are. The tug of war called growing up begins. Too big versus too little rarely compromises at the right place. My suggestion is “creative accommodation” on both sides. That way you are more likely to come out at the reality where you should be. However, it will not always work out that way so don’t expect miracles when both parties are under an off base delusion about themselves or the other.... one older, one younger.

Nor will this business of trying to be perfect for the kids work. Perfection rideth for a fall. Say, “I may be wrong on this, but I am trying to do as well as I can. That is all you can fairly expect of me. Since we have discussed both sides, this is the way it shall be.” And you must be the one to decide the way it will be because parents are legally and spiritually responsible for their children. The buck stops at the parent. Do not indulge a weak neurotic attempt at a false love that buys short term peace to be “loved.” Stick to what is best over the long pull for the child. That is difficult to do. But don’t drive yourself crazy. Why worry when you can pray?

The business of trying to be perfect for a child backfires because it is humanly impossible to do. Nor can you leave perfect circumstances to the kids when you die. People are always telling me that we cannot leave a “mess” to our kids. Why not? Every other generation in history did. Even if you left what you see as a perfect situation, the kids would not see it that way.

Each generation is in rebellion against the next, and what one generation sees as perfect will definitely be seen as imperfect to the next generation. It is foolish to try to repeal this way of nature. You are fighting nature on this. Human nature can be refined, polished, sublimated, transfigured, transformed and improved but it cannot be denied. We may improve human nature but we cannot deny it. Nor can life ever be perfected. But it must be accepted. It is best accepted with positive enthusiasm and faith and the recognition of a spiritual dimension. That is what religion is all about at its best. That is why positive life affirming religion is good for you.

Human nature is what God has given us to work with. What we may have worked so hard to pass down to the future and see as near perfection, the kids may see as horrible. They often do. This is not meanness on their part. It is life. “C’est la vie” as the French say. This is life and we must believe in life and a positive Spirit behind life.

This Divine Spirit will work things out for us, and through us in the long run although there are immediate moments of stress and evil we must endure. I often think of liberals, those without belief in God, how disappointed they must be as they witness so many of the young all over the world returning to belief in God, acceptance of Life and affirmation of human nature. We humans affirm life through belief in God. But truly liberals are more to be pitied than censored. Although they mean well, they have not always done us well.

Do not think you can leave perfect circumstances in the world for your children. They will rebel at your concepts of perfection. They will always see the flaws and have flaws. Do not think you can rear perfect children. You cannot. You will be under a delusion. Perfection will elude everyone to the end. But Christ will not. He is there for humanity. Because of your personal knowledge of Christ you can give your children some of that redeeming love and direction children need to make real accomplishments in life. You may then have a real and definite influence on their lives, teaching them: to live more harmoniously, to focus on character as well as a glut of materialistic goods, to be more than they would otherwise have been had they not been loved by Christian parents, or if that is not possible, had they not been loved by one deeply Christian parent who did not nag them to be perfect but taught them how to accept others and to love.  

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.