by Susan Brown
Generation after generation the pendulum of parenting styles does swing. You know what I’m talking about. From parents who are more “adult-centered” to parents whose top priority is parenthood. We all know, if we think logically, that balance is the key, but how that works out practically looks different for everyone, as it should. I’ve heard the statement, “You can never love your children too much.” And I agree. Love is so important for our kids. But haven’t we all watched well-loved kids who grew up to reject God? And what does it really look like to love our children well? Some say lots of physical provision. Some say lots of quality time. Some say lots of praise. Some say all of the above. I have known many moms and dads giving their all and completely running dry trying to love their kids enough. . . Enough that they grow up right. . . Enough that they don’t begin to blame their parents for all of their shortcomings once they hit young adulthood. . . Enough that they know God and love Him. . . After all, we are told that we are responsible for our children’s viewpoint of God. . . Enough!
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary, and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Who of us experiences the truth of this in our lives? Many of us, when confiding with others about our perceived shortcomings, so often hear the following: the answer is to stop being so selfish—welcome to parenthood—dig deeper. For many who struggle with this, I imagine you are the ones who have sought to give your kids a more meaningful life; one that is not filled with too much screen time and too many things. It is true—being a parent takes selflessness and highlights the struggle between me-focus and others-focus. And true, we are stronger than we realize and we can do more than we thought we could. But what if that is not the whole answer? What if, in our good attempts to show God to our children, we are inadvertently trying to fill a role we were never meant to fill?
I am far from perfect. You are far from perfect. God chose us imperfect beings to bring up His children. . . Did He design us to take His place? I think we all know the answer to that. Yes, spend time with your children. Yes, communicate their value with your actions and words. Yes, there will be times when you must give up what you want to give them what they need (and sometimes even what they want). But there will also be times when what you have to give will not be enough to fill their need. And when that is the case, do not be discouraged! Praise the Lord that He does not put that burden on you! This is when we introduce and reintroduce and show and tell our children about Jesus. Each time they will learn more. Each time that they need more than you have available to give and you lift your eyes up to Jesus and still seem to come up short, help your little beloved to lift their eyes up to Jesus. Remind them of the truths in His word, that when they seek Him, they will find Him. No one person was intended to fill all the needs of another person. Most people understand that when it comes to adult relationships or romantic relationships, but somehow it seems this concept can be missed with our children.
You have been given stewardship of your child’s heart for a time. Show them how to seek Him with all of their heart. When you look to Jesus, they will see. When you show them Jesus, they will see. When you tell them of answered prayers, they will see. When you tell them of unanswered prayers with your heart still turned to Him, they will see. Through the years, if you show them, they will see. What did you learn that you could not first see in another? In your honest approach, showing your children that you are just a person who deeply depends on God, you give them a gift. You show them the One who is never too tired, or too selfish, or too grumpy. You teach them that there is One on whom they can lean when all other humans fail. Making room for Jesus in your child’s life will be the best thing you have ever done, both for you and for them.