Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Image-Bearers (Part 2)

In part one of this series, I discussed this parenting myth:

Good parents raise well-behaved, kind, compassionate, empathetic kids.
Bad parents raise rambunctious, anti-social, uncaring, impulsive kids.

Lee and I put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to raise "good kids".  Kids who care for others and follow rules and submit to authority.  We teach these things, reward and give consequences accordingly, as consistently as possible (and God knows sometimes--often--we fail miserably).  And yet, we are always aware that we are perilously close to teaching them to be good for goodness's sake.  That would be tragic.


Like saying to our kids, "Be good because it's nice for others and it makes us look like good parents, which of course makes us feel good and more likely to buy you ice cream.  Good because after all the rules are there for a reason and without them imagine what kind of a world you would live in."  And if we succeeded in training them to be "good" for those reasons, we would rob them of the opportunity to love God, their true Father, for his pure goodness, for his grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, to respond to his love with real love of their own, and to live life in the Spirit as imitators of Christ, because he is at work in them, and it brings joy to see his reflection in the mirror.  If we succeeded in teaching them to be good for goodness's sake, I don't think we would be good parents.  But the world would think we were.  Because our kids would be people pleasers rather than God pleasers.  And so would we.

It's all still a mystery to us.  It feels as though the time is getting shorter, and the stakes are high.  We pass the pressure along to them, though we long to do the opposite.  We want them to live in freedom, freedom to love and be loved as God intended.  To delight in their identities as bearers of His image.  In so doing, we can't ask them to be anyone other than their honest selves.  And they are not always "people people".  But that, in itself, does not make them ungodly.

Sometimes I wish I could find the right words (you know, fewer of them) to ask people to bear with us while we allow our problem solvers and intense competitors a little latitude to grow up.  It's not that we don't make rules and provide discipline.  It's not that we aren't training our kids to care.  It's just that the socially accepted ways of caring don't always make sense to them, and they don't necessarily get it on the first or fiftieth or five thousandth try.

My kids will serve society far better in life if they can learn to admit their weakness before the God of second chances, than they will if they learn to shape up because they are threatened within an inch of their lives (or with no ice cream or no electronics--or worst of all, with shame) if they don't.  The only truly attainable goal we can set is to be the best possible role models for what we are trying to teach them.  Not perfect at all.  Not pretending to be perfect.  Just living under grace and loving Jesus and wanting with all our hearts to be like him.



Dea said...

Hello! I was just going through my blog (that I sadly haven't visited in forever) and seen many of your uplifting and ever so kind comments. It made me wonder how you were doing and I came over to see! I am happy to see you have kept up at blogging better than I have and that you still do it! Your kids have gotten so big! I didn't seem to realize back then that you are a teacher- This is also what I will be! Senior year- so close! Anyways I just wanted to see how you were doing and thank you for all the kind words you left on my blog! If you want to email me you're more than welcome to at idea027@gmail.com this is probably the best way to answer since I sadly don't get on my blog very often anymore!

God Bless!

Givinya De Elba said...

This was so good I'm going to need to read it a few more times to soak it in. You could submit it to a Christian magazine - your words could encourage many parents!

Tess @ Pro-tography 101 said...

This would make a good article!

StitchinByTheLake said...

Another wonderful wisdom-filled post! blessings, marlene

LauraLiz said...

Amen and amen.