We were talking about what a battle it can be raising kids and knowing when to say “yes” and when to “hold the line,” and I said, “I fear that my kids will resent me.”
Without skipping a beat, my friend said, “I don’t care if my kids resent me! I love them. I would die for them. But I’m going to follow the Lord and teach them to follow Him. This is who I am. If they don’t like it or if they resent me, they can take it up with God because He made me this way.”
And just like that, something in me that was bound up loosened.
What was it about her saying she didn’t care if her kids resented her that freed something in me?
A few weeks ago, I was struggling with whether or not to let my teen have a certain social media app. My gut said no, my brain said no, but her convincing arguments and the fact that all her friends had it made me question if I was being too strict. I told her I would pray and think about it and get back to her.
I agonized. My brain woke me up two days in a row at five a.m. with anxiety over it, and so I prayed and pleaded with God for what to do. Why was this decision so hard to make? I relayed my struggle to some friends, and they encouraged me to hold the line. They told me they told their kids, “We’ll revisit this when you’re in high school.”
Then my friend, who could see the forehead wrinkles in my head getting deeper with worry, gently said, “It sounds like maybe there’s some fear you have of your child and what they think of you.” I don’t remember the exact words, but I do know they were true.
I am a people-pleaser with my kids. It’s not overt. I do set rules and boundaries, but it’s there. And if I’m honest, I fear that my kids will resent me and turn away from God based on my parenting decisions. This is why I agonized. This is why I woke up with anxiety over a decision I knew the answer to but was afraid to give.
I question my parenting decisions far too often, instead of going forward in faith, knowing I’m doing my best and making the wisest decisions I know how to make at the time. And the thing is, I know I’m going to mess up and make some wrong decisions. I know I’m not going to get this parenting thing all right.
But what I do know is that God has made me my kids’ parent, and I do have authority over them to do what my husband and I believe is best, whether they agree with it or not. This is my job, one of the good works planned for me in advance by God — to parent my children, even when it’s hard or confusing or has me up at five a.m. begging God for help. This is my job, and it’s important.
Years ago, I wrote a blog post about how my daughter didn’t have to please me, meaning she was allowed to have her own opinions and it was okay if I didn’t share them. The thing I’m realizing now is that it’s okay if I don’t please her or my other kids either; my job isn’t to please them.
My job is to love them, care for them, listen to them, disciple them, respect and nurture who God has woven them to be with their unique gifts and talents, and to raise them up with wisdom and kindness in the training and instruction of the Lord. And in this world, that last bit — the training and instruction in the Lord — is going to have resistance. I should know this — of course, it will.
So when my friend said she didn’t care if her kids resented her, what was freed in me was the truth that it’s okay if one day my kids resent me if they resent me because I’m doing my best to parent them well before the Lord. My identity is in Christ, not in how my kids respond to me. (Whew, that’s hard.) So I will continue to do my best, mess up, ask for forgiveness, seek godly counsel, pray, and keep on.
God, help us all to stay faithful to You and Your Word and to persevere with our parenting even when it’s hard and confusing and feels like a lost battle. Help us keep our eyes on You and remind us daily that our identity is in Christ, which is secure. Thank You for Your wisdom and kindness and gentle leading. In the name of Jesus, I ask these things. Amen.
Love the your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
God, help us all to stay faithful to You and Your Word and to persevere with our parenting even when it's hard and confusing and feels like a lost battle. -@sarahmae: Click To Tweet