Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. (Romans 14:13)
Parenting is tough business. It is made more difficult when we, as parents, bring our own parenting expectations to the forefront. “I will never allow my child to act that way!” The problem with judging other parents, especially before you are one, can only lead to disaster. Don’t judge others until you have walked a mile in their shoes. All children are different, and some are naturally a little more stimulating than others. Perfection and parenting are incompatible.
There is one important lesson that can greatly enhance one’s ability to be a good parent. It isn’t a technique or even an acquired skill. It is simply a recognition that we are not totally in control of our children’s lives, and even less so, their actions and emotions. Worrying about your child’s actions and emotions come from a negative place, many child psychologists call “fear-based parenting.” When we fear our actions/inactions will hurt our children, we can become crippled with inaction, or become so overprotective we are unwilling to let our children make their own mistakes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, parenting is vitally important work, and our decisions and actions do make a difference in the lives of our children, but not every little misstep will permanently scar a child. (Unless you are playing hockey with your second-grade daughter and you accidently raise the puck just as she is falling, and the puck hits her in the eye. Even then, while she’ll never let you live it down, her scar was only skin deep.) Children are resilient. Consistency is the most important gift you can give your child. Then, when an inconsistent moment occurs, your child will be less affected, even if it is a parental screwup.
Today, if you are a parent, or grandparent, give yourself a break. We all scar our children. No parent is perfect. The parents who are caught in “fear-based parenting,” often leaves both parent and child feeling they are not good enough. Part of growing up is making mistakes, learning from them, and moving forward. Maturity is developed by learning from one’s childhood mistakes. Sure, if your child is walking toward a cliff, scream at them and forcefully stop them. But most of the time, they are not walking off a cliff. Let them make their minor mistakes. Their mistakes are not representative of your parenting. Be there, as a non-anxious presence, to listen and guide them to a better, wiser, more-mature place. It isn’t about you and your parenting. It is about your child and their maturity and growth. Prayerfully offer God your worries and stress, so your child doesn’t have to carry your stress with them. Enjoy the ride, because they grow up very fast.