Being yourself with your kids. Perfect parents produce miserable kids. Would you believe that our children learn more from how we handle our mess-ups, failures and problems than they do from observing us doing everything perfectly? What have I learned from my own parents’ imperfections? I’ve learned how to accept inconsistency, how to deal with errors in judgment, how to respond to overreaction. I’ve learned that if you look hard enough, you can usually find a glimmer of humor in the imperfections.
Lesson One: Don’t expect perfection. Every family has its secrets; no matter how good things seem on the outside. I spent the first 30 years of my life trying to be perfect in the hope that I could influence my dad to stop drinking. I was fighting a losing battle because the Bible doesn’t give us one example of perfect human parents. All parents in the Bible failed. God gave us principles to live by and then He provided a way to recover from our constant failure to live up to those principles. My dad’s whole life taught me that truth.
Lesson Two: Don’t freeze frame anyone. Dad took home movies as we were growing up. On the evening of his funeral, we watched those old reels for hours. The experience was emotional, cathartic, healing and unforgettable. We relived those moments but when it was finished, we realized that life keeps going. Parents have a tendency to label their children – this one’s funny, this one’s smart, this one needs extra help. Once my dad quit drinking, he needed to be around people who would give him the freedom to change, to be radically different than he had been for years. I learned from his example how to trust people until they give us definite reasons to do otherwise. We all need the freedom to grow and change and so do our kids.
Lesson Three: Always consider your options. As Dad spent those years trapped in alcoholism, the bottle seemed to be his only option. After a stay in a treatment center, he made it his job to search out and find other options. He found the option of hunting incredibly freeing. Once in a while everyone feels as though the roof has just caved in; fear and debris hide our choice. I’ve learned it’s best to trust God and seek His options first. We may be temporarily blinded; we may never have all the facts. God does have a better vantage point, so determine to follow His lead.
Ron Rose (excerpted from “Common Sense Disciple” by Allen & Rose, Christian Parenting Books.)