By Kara Ranck
Before I became a parent, I falsely believed I was perfect. The image of my life in my mental mirror was clean, spotless, and unbroken. My outward life—appearance, career, house, car—seemed put together. My inner life—emotions, spiritual walk, thoughts—appeared under control. Then, I birthed a baby.
First, my emotions spiraled out of control followed closely by my environment. My house became disorganized and not as clean. I pushed pause on my career so I could be home with my child. Sleep eluded me.
As my child got older, a mixture of her independence and sin threatened my control. I soon saw that I still struggled with my emotions, namely anger. My perfection was exposed for what it is—a lie. When I looked back into the mirror, I discovered fingerprints, smudges, and cracks in the glass.
Maybe you are like me and faced a similar realization. Guilt follows closely afterward. And even now, we encounter guilt when we react poorly once again, and our imperfection is exposed. Perhaps we take our child’s behavior as a personal offense and react emotionally. Then, the guilt comes.
What compounds this is the belief in the lie that even if we aren’t perfect, certainly our children will be. We are shocked to discover they are not. We hear their unkind words and see their mean actions. Did they hear me say or see me do such uncaring words and deeds? We analyze what mistakes we’ve made in our past parenting that would have caused our child to act in such disobedience, selfishness, and rebellion—forgetting they too are born in sin. We feel the weight of nurturing the souls under our care, and therefore, we also feel the burden of our sin when we fail.
Recently, we heard older friends pour out their hearts over poor choices their eighteen-year-old daughter is making, which led her to move out of their home. We felt their sadness and discouragement. What do we say to friends in this difficult situation? Do we suggest they should not dwell on their past mistakes as parents since it does nothing to aid them now?
While I agree that no good comes from wallowing in our guilt, such a sentiment rings hollow. The reality is, we are all going to ponder our past mistakes as parents. When we do, how can we encourage others to get past them? How can we encourage ourselves? What hope can we offer?
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