I have learned this depressing little secret about parenting. It was succinctly expressed in a comment after a blog on parenting.
“Bad Parents, Bad Kids.”
The opposite thought is not as common.
When kids do something right, the world rarely gives the parent credit.
People rarely watch kids excel at sports and faun over the great genes the parents’ donated to their success.
People rarely see an excellent musician and praise the parents for spending much time and money investing in lessons and instruments.
People rarely see a well-behaved child in public and praise their parents for doing such a good job.
People rarely see an academically gifted student and give their parents credit for helping with (nagging them to do) homework, providing educational experiences and providing opportunities to pursue their passions.
It’s as if the child is completely responsible for their own successes, whether they are 5, 9 or 18. Like evolution, it just happened. They just catapulted to success because they are just really, really gifted, naturally polite and wonderful.
When impressive children are featured in the news, parents and their contributions to the success of their child are rarely mentioned.
But, see a kid go bad, and the world points all fingers at the parents.
New technology capabilities enable readers to post comments after news stories. The comments break my heart. As soon as a young person is in trouble, the comments rage against the child’s parents.
A few examples posted after a news article today,
“Its [sic] to [sic] bad that the parents of all those kids didnt [sic] do a better job of raiseing [sic] them. What kind of people are they? Mindless idots [sic] would be my first guess. Dont [sic] try and tell me the parents didn’t know what was going on with their kids either. DUH!!”
“One can only imagine what this ****s parents are like. It makes me sick. If you are not able to care for your children, then give them to someone who will or stop having children.”
Yes, I know there are some bad parents. I know ALL parents make mistakes they regret. I know there are some parents who do teach their children to do illegal things, whether by their example or their instruction. This girl was charged with gang related murder. I can believe her parents made serious mistakes, but I don’t think they taught her to murder.
But, this same condemnation is freely extended to parents of all types of bad behavior. When a kid in the grocery store pitches a fit, it is assumed it is because the parent is a bad parent. It may be the first tantrum and it may well be the last, but judgement is cast.
When a teenager gets into some of those troubles that teens do, it can be assumed it is because of the “bad” parents.
In a blog mentioned in the introduction, a mother was boasting how great the teenage years were with her teen and that she didn’t know what all the negative hype about teenagers was about. I was happy for her, but she had one very young teen who had only been in high school one year. She hadn’t been fully faced with all the temptations and trials known to these troubled years. I grieved for this mom, because often when parents go into those teen years blind and proud, they are sideswiped with problems because they couldn’t see them coming. They missed the telltale signs because they were too busy patting themselves on the back.
It was after this blog I read the gut-jolting line, “Bad Parents, Bad Kids.”
I just can’t agree with that philosophy. I have seen how time and time again the parents will raise all their children the same, yet one will choose to lead a life of ungodly rebellion, choosing to participate in sins their parents did not practice or promote. I see people who were raised in ungodly, abusive homes who choose to accept Jesus Christ and become a new creature, forsaking those family sin patterns.
We have free will. Parents make choices. Kids make choices.
As Christian parents, we can’t listen to those worldly voices and seek approval of the world for our parenting. Our goal is to raise our kids with the Bible, showering them with the love, grace, mercy, instruction and wisdom the Lord has bestowed upon us.
When a child may have a truly “bad” parent, one that is not following the Bible, they still have the opportunity to grow up and choose to be different. They can choose to be “good” with the grace and strength from the Lord. They cannot use their upbringing for an excuse to sin. They can move out and move on. (I don’t say this lightly.)
When a child may have a “good” parent, one that chooses to follow the Bible, they still have the opportunity to grow up and choose to be different. They can choose to be “bad” and forsake the words of Life. But, they will be help accountable for the knowledge they were given and the path they were offered.
As a parent, we are totally responsible to do the best job we have the capability of doing with every aspect – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Despite our attempts, we cannot guarantee that our children will choose to follow what they have been taught. They might turn out better. Then we give the Lord glory. They might turn out worse. Then, we search our hearts, confess any sin, and seek the Lord’s wisdom to continue parenting in a way to win them back to Him.
It gets down to this.
We NEED to pray.
We need to choose to be godly, Biblical parents. They need to choose to be godly, Biblical people.
Parents choosing Jesus. Kids choosing Jesus.
That’s really what parenting is about.