New commenter, Mel, was writing on her blog about the pull on new parents of rote, by-the-book solutions to the common “tear-your-hair-out” parenting issues. She is SO not alone in that. One nice thing about having raised some children is you’ve also seen your friends’ kids grow up, so you’ve seen a crew of kids go through this, that, and the other thing, and their parents handle them in a variety of ways, good days and bad days, mistakes, wisdom and all–we’ve all had our portions of each–and the kids have turned out.
I mean honestly–my friends have great kids, and so do I. If you know me, you probably know at least some of the kids I’m talking about–and aren’t they a great crew? Aren’t you proud of them all? I know I am. Now, of course, God’s not finished with any of us or any of them–everyone’s got rough edges, heartaches, and issues–just like every other adult–much as we all would have liked to spare our children.
But alas, there is not a perfect foolproof way to raise perfect kids. It’s funny how everyone knows that, but parenting books still prey on our hopes and fears that if we just find the right method, and employ its silver bullet in just the right way, we’ll eliminate the issues and ultimately present our children perfect to the world by age 18 or 21, and they’ll be such shining examples that a hurting world will want to become Christians just out of sheer admiration and amazement at their virtue.
“Ah, me,” as they sigh here in the South. It occurs to me that if such perfection were possible, Jesus-dying-for-our-sins was a wasted effort. God could have sent a parenting method book instead of His Son. Besides, most people like being around redeemed people who’ve been refined and are being refined in the fire of heartache, failures and struggles. I know I do.
But I digress. The great thing about having raised children to adulthood is that you know then, firsthand and for reals that kids grow up and that toddlerish, childish, and teenagerish behavior melts away. I’ve been in Christian circles where it was considered a heresy to say of a child’s behavior, “it’s just a stage,” but guess what? Lots of it really IS just a stage. Manage it for your own sanity and that of people around you but don’t fear overly much that if you don’t do X, they’ll never learn Y.
Kids strain toward maturity like little homing devices. You don’t need the latest greatest parenting guru’s help with this. Just some common sense, a sense of your own proper authority, some memory of what it felt like to be a kid, and a strong attachment to your children so that you *know* what’s going on in them and their world. Oh, and as solid a home life as you can manage. Do attend to your marriage and your spiritual life, and make your home a place of safety and peace and ministry and share those values with your children.