My dad tells me frequently, in regard to parenting, don’t ever take too much blame…or too much credit.
Genesis Twenty Five makes it clear that children are predisposed to certain tendencies: Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. (vs.27) Even before they were born, God told Rebekah that two nations were in her womb. (vs.23)
Most parents, at some time or another, marvel at how children from the exact same gene-pool can be so different from one another. We certainly have. And Isaac and Rebekah surely did too.
As a mom, I’ve spent too many hours beating myself up for things I should have done more or less of when raising our sons. It’s natural. As they grew, my desire was to teach and model complete devotion to the one true God. I fell short. My desire was to teach them to be organized and orderly and work hard. I fell short. My desire was to teach them to respond to life with a positive attitude every day and to be kind always. I fell short. My desire was to pray for them without ceasing. I fell short. There are many things we did “correctly” as parents, and many times we fell short.
But here’s the thing. Our children are wonderfully designed and completely destined by God. My dad is right. We should absolutely raise our children with discipline and love and prayer and devotion to God…and we should model Godliness. But we should also accept that they were born with unique dispositions and a free will.
So, we commit to Godly living and reject the idea that their struggles are a reflection of our failures. Sometimes…maybe they are. Most of the time…no.
I taught in the inner-city for years. The most powerful thing I observed is how some children who were born into horrific home-environments (drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect of basic needs) turned every assignment in on time, had deeply kind souls, and got themselves to school on time…everyday. And some children from the same environment were a complete train-wreck. It’s a mystery.
The bottom line is this. We do our very best to be Godly parents and, at the end of the day, we are careful not to take too much blame…or too much credit. Thanks dad.