How Bad Parenting Might Save Your Kids
We’re all worried about it. Bad parenting. Screwing up our kids.
If it weren’t such a sad obsession for most of us parents, it would almost be laughable, the things we worry about.
“If I make one too many trips to the fast-food drive thru, I’ll make my kids fat.” Or you might make them frugal and great at time management – which is why most of us choose a drive-through in the first place.
“If I don’t tell them how wonderful they are at all times they might end up having low self-esteem.” Or they might end up seeing themselves accurately, flaws and all, which might push them to work on the things they struggle with, in turn proving to themselves that their short-comings aren’t permanent…and life is a series of successes and failures. No one really believes someone who only tells them what they want to hear – including your kids. Don’t be that guy. If your kid stinks at baseball – be tenderly truthful. Help them get better at it or help them find something else. Your little league coach will thank you.
“If I don’t get them into the best college, they could end up moving back in with me.” Actually, this one is true. Get them into the best college everyone can afford. Moving back in is probably the LAST thing either of you wants. But note, if you get them into too good of a college, they won’t be able to live on their own anyway. So if you settle for mediocre, it’ll probably all balance out in the end.
“I have to protect them.” Newsflash. Not gonna happen. If you want to raise normal, non-screwed-up adults, let go of that protection myth. You cannot be with them every waking moment of every day. (Well, maybe some of you can – but that’s weird and unhealthy.) Let God carry some of the burden of protection! And remember--kids learn from failure. Protecting them from it ensures that, eventually, they’ll have it in spades. Or…they’ll be living in the basement under your watchful eye until they’re 37. Either way, they’ve lost. And so have you.
So what can you do to be a great parent?
- Trust that when failure happens – and it absolutely will – your kids will survive – and thrive. Because our failures are part of the fabric that helps our kids become who they’re meant to be. God still shows up in their lives even when we don't.
- Talk about your own failures with your kids, and admit when you make a mistake--and apologize! It's a great model forgiveness and grace! Pray together about relying on God and His strength--especially where you are weak!
- Love yourself despite your imperfections. Modeling self-compassion helps kids understand that they too are lovable even when they aren't perfect. It's a practice of one of the 4 Acts of Love called Radical Hospitality--loving unconditionally like Jesus.
And despite the best intentions of being great parents, we'll never get all the parenting scenarios right. But that's not what turns us into bad parents. That’s what turns our kids into brilliant human beings – being able to live with us and still turn out alright in the end.