No one want to do hard things, especially if this hard thing has not been modeled for us by our parents. Growing up, I rarely heard my mother or father say that they have misbehaved or were wrong. Nada. Zilch. Crickets (to read about how I overcame this part of my upbringing, check out the chapter called Thank Your Way Out in my book).
Never mind all the wonderful praises we read on social media of other people’s parents suggesting what wonderful role models they’ve had. Never mind that I just got done honoring my own parents this past Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. If all the confidential confessions from my young and older clients are of any indication, then chances are you haven’t had the perfect role model in your mom or dad either. We find it hard to admit our parental faults because that doesn’t feel natural.
Or maybe the deeper explanation may be that it’s humbling.
Yes, we carry on in the community like the light is within us. And for Christians, we should because that is one of Jesus’ sermons for us–“You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16) Many of us take it a step further and we carry on as happy, successful adults with wonderful children in tow. Afterall, why not? Yolo–you only live once, so why not be guided by the Holy Spirit and slay this Earthly life?
So it’s super humbling when our brokenness (imperfect nature) runs our desired performance amuck. As a matter of confession, periodically, I’ve got kids in meltdown modes, preteens who repeat to me, “Mom, stop,” just when I feel like I’m on a roll here. I even have a kid who berates me for being “a horrible mom.” Ouch. What was that? What field did that come from?
Son, you don’t act this terribly when people are around.
Well, that’s because I learned it from you.
What did I do to deserve this? Must I suit up with the armor of God at home, too, after a long day’s work in the office helping my clients battle their mental, psychological, and spiritual demons? Somewhere in the vast space between each child’s experience and our reality lies the truth. While nonChristians complain that church going believers are hypocritical, I proclaim that these are my imperfect kids who mostly perform well everywhere we go. And I am their imperfect mom trying my best to make sense of my children’s hurt while steering clear of the hypocrisy. Humbling.
It’s also humiliating.
We’re not even celebrity or politicians where all our dysfunctions are played out in public, and it’s still humiliating. Don’t worry, I did not eavesdrop in your home last night. I did not secretly record your private conversations or conflicts. Trust me, it’s humiliating because even as learned adults with education, values, and experience, we still don’t “arrive.” And when we dare to overcome our situation to “encourage” others (we still have that light inside us, don’t we?) we have to tackle unexpected defeats, poor impulse control, and lingering fears.
What a hilarious ride this parenting journey is!
If we’re not weeping with sorrow, anguish, and pain, then surely we are crying tears of joy, pride, and relief. What–you, too? You’re that wickedly dysfunctional, too? Your family did what? How did I not know all this time? And the topping on the parenting cake–“she is just like you!” “No, she’s just like you!” And finally, “Lord, give him a child just like him!”
Can you relate? Do you regularly own up to your parenting antics? You can break that vicious cycle of dysfunctional behaviors. But don’t wait until you publish a book about “parenting from the best of both worlds” to obligate you. Humble yourself now and often.