By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
The terrible twos.
The rebellious teenager.
Arguments, disagreements, frustration, and despair can be part of raising a child. We read Scriptures about successful parenting and can feel that we don’t measure up.
The Bible gives us commands about rearing our kids so we can know where to turn when trouble strikes.
The Father is the only perfect parent, and even His first created flesh (and many afterward) strayed away from His Word. Adam and Eve lived in an unblemished environment and they still wanted more. Sin plagued their lives because of disobedience.
Mary and Joseph are the only couple who ever had a faultless child to raise. When their other babies were born, I wonder if they were dismayed when the selfish sin nature of Jesus’s siblings exhibited itself. While these two chosen people probably grew up with brothers and sisters and knew about disagreements, having a sinless firstborn may have spoiled them a little. They may have felt like failures with the other members of the family.
We read Scriptures such as Proverbs 22:6, which says, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it (NIV). We may feel that we haven’t lived up to this command. Maybe there were times we ourselves didn’t completely follow these principles and now we live in regret for the opportunities we missed.
Rather than beating ourselves up, we can rely on God’s promises.
Here are six remedies when you feel like a failed parent:
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1. Leave Regret and Condemnation Behind
We can start to live in regret for mistakes we made in the past. We may feel like our situation with our adolescents is hopeless. Teenage angst may leave us confused. Adult offspring may have strayed into sin, and we don’t know how to help them.
Thinking about what we should or shouldn’t have done will only exacerbate our feelings of failure. Instead, we can rely on Scriptures that tell us who we are in Christ and know by faith that we were given righteousness at salvation (Ephesians 1:7). If the Lord doesn’t condemn us, we shouldn’t condemn ourselves.
We can turn the tables on these mental struggles by meditating on the Scriptures that fit our family situation. Taking our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) can redirect our thoughts and actions to agree with what our heavenly Father says about us.
We can’t live victorious lives in front of our kids unless we accept the truth of the righteousness Christ gave us.
Romans 8:1 NIV tells us, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."
2. Pray for Wisdom
Upon the death of King David, his son, Solomon, was still a young man. He asked the Lord for direction in how to lead the nation of Israel. He was humble enough at this point to know he needed help, and he went to the correct source.
The Bible tells us that all we have to do is ask for wisdom, and God gives. We receive this gift by faith. When difficult situations arise the best way to handle our actions is to remain calm and not make hasty decisions.
Some instances do require a quick response. But taking the time to study the options, praying, and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, will give us a firm foundation for doing the right thing. When we clothe ourselves with the Spirit’s armor daily, we are equipped to handle the battles that arise.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
3. Watch Your Words
If our offspring have strayed from godly living we may blame ourselves. Nagging them to return to biblical values will not bring them back. The father of the prodigal son let his son leave the fold even though this dad knew his son’s choice was wrong. No matter what this father said to his boy, the young man’s mind was made up to leave. However, the father continued to watch for his missing offspring’s return and welcomed him with happiness and celebration upon his homecoming.
Younger children do need boundaries. We can’t let them go their own way without restrictions, but we can find ways to corral their desires back into God’s path. We do need to require their obedience and church attendance but with positive methods. Harshness will only drive them farther away.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Parents
I was a homeschooling mom for several years. If there were trophies for the most comparison done by a mother, I would have a shelf full of awards. The temptation to look at other parents’ teaching methods, completed projects, and creative ideas left me feeling less than worthy.
We can compare ourselves in a variety of areas, but the Word tells us we are not to live up to other people’s expectations. We are to only follow the Lord’s plan for our own lives.
He has gifted each member of our family with individual abilities and talents to use for His glory and to spread His kingdom. As we focus on His will for our families, we can find peace and contentment rather than the anxiety that comes from living up to another person’s accomplishments.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
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5. Leave Your Children in God’s Hands
This doesn’t mean we have a hands-off policy but we can sometimes get in God’s way when He may be speaking to our kids. We may find ourselves with our own plans if we don’t consult our heavenly Father. Lifting our children to the Lord in prayer is one of the best gifts we can give them. He knows more about what they need than we do.
We can pray thanking God for their lives while we rest in the Lord’s peace. Worry, anxiety, and fear won’t help them or us.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
6. Change Your Expectations
This can be a companion to comparing ourselves with others. We may be allowing other children’s achievements to color the expectations of our own little ones. If we examine what we expect from them, we can determine if our goals are godly or fleshly. We may feel like a failed parent simply because our own kids don’t measure up in our own minds to others.
We should also avoid favoritism. Several biblical characters were partial to one child over another one and the result was a disaster. We know Ishmael’s birth was the result of Sarah’s intervention. Because Isaac was the son of the promise, enmity resulted between the two mothers and the two boys. Hagar and Ishmael eventually had to leave. Rebekah favored Jacob, while Isaac preferred Esau. Jacob followed this pattern with his partiality toward Joseph.
We can guard against this mistake by dealing with our kids according to their personalities. If we find we have fallen into the comparison trap with our offspring we can repent and reanalyze our vision.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6-7)
Parents Are Children Too
Even though we are human parents while on this earth, we are also spiritual sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us and not through the lens of the world. Cultural and societal norms surround us and the selections of advice can confuse us. Only one source is the true method of family guidance and that is from God.
While behavior modification processes can have some benefits, we can’t be successful by only using natural methods. Many problems we encounter not only with our kids, but also in our own lives, have spiritual roots. We can solve issues when we seek biblical solutions by applying the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to whatever we face rather than psychological advice from ungodly sources.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God namely, Christ. (Colossians 2:2-3)
Our goal is to be united in love through Christ and have complete understanding. We can avoid feeling like failures when we follow the Lord’s guidelines.
When our kids fail we don’t throw them out of the family. We love and correct them the best way we know how. Likewise, as human moms and dads our failures don’t get us thrown out of our heavenly Father’s fold. His arms are outstretched to us with more love and forgiveness than we can imagine.
The best Father there has ever been or ever will be can keep us in perfect peace.
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