Being a Forgiving Parent Also Means Forgiving Yourself
Regrets In Parenting
Some parents live with no regrets regarding their parenting while others carry memories of feeling that they could have done a better job. The reality is that we all could have parented differently but this would not have guaranteed a different outcome. While I adore and am so proud of my boys, I feel that I could have done better in some ways.
One of the things that we can do if we feel that our parenting was truly inadequate is to extend an apology to the child. Don’t excuse your actions and behavior but often our children wonder why we acted in certain ways. As children mature, they realize that you were not perfect and most accept the apology.
Children Make Their own Choices
It hurts when we see our children floundering. While we want our children to lead successful and stable lives we find ourselves still worrying when our children are in their twenties and continue to make poor decisions. While some parents see nothing wrong with their children’s choices, other parents find their children enmeshed in drugs, joblessness, addiction, homosexuality, living together outside of wedlock or involved in crime. Some parents have no problem with these things while other moms and dads find these choices devastating.
Understand that your child’s choices are their responsibility and not necessarily a reflection of your parenting. In Matthew 15:19 and Psalm 51, it is written that we are all imperfect. Perhaps you could have parented better but still your child reaches the point where they make choices for themselves.
Rescuing The Child?
As parents, when a grown child is not making good choices, share your hurts with supportive friends and hear their advice. When hurting as a parent, we often continue to try to rescue a grown child. We attempt to make people do what we believe will help our child but fail to realize that we as parents are acting unrealistically and desperately. We try to force others to give jobs or be a friend to our wayward child and our friendships become conditional and controlling.
It is a common picture today to see children in some form of rehabilitation but when parents are asked to attend classes or counseling, they decline. We fail to realize as parents that we have developed wrong patterns of coping. We think that a therapist sees us as “messed up”and our pride prevents us from receiving the comfort and advice that is necessary for healing in our lives.
As a parent of a child that has strayed, love and care, but don’t continue to rescue. Rescue means that our grown child remains a child in the problem area. Obviously if their life is at risk, the answer is different. However rescue mostly allows the hurtful cycle to continue and this grown child never faces the consequences of their actions. We keep trying to fix something that wont be fixed. We as parents become hardened toward friends and reclusive, while we insist that they don’t understand our situation.
Shifting Our Focus
We are tunnel visioned in rescuing this child and no longer open to sound advice and wisdom. In a sense this wayward child has caused us to develop a lifestyle that is shut away from friends and relatives. The rescuing of this child becomes more important than our relationships including that which we have with our spouse and God.
Accept that at this time your child is choosing to live differently to your standards. This is easy to say and different decisions are easier to accept than others. Know too that because your child is not doing as you desire, does not mean that he is not thinking of change.
Prayer is vital rather than pressuring a child to live according to your standards. Note that the father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 loved his son by letting him go. He didn’t try to fix the wayward son.
Lastly, let go and forgive yourself. Holding unforgiveness toward yourself is detrimental to yourself and others. We no longer see God and others in a right perspective. To not forgive oneself holds oneself to an unrealistic standard and prevents freedom. This means at times, that the hurt resurfaces and the mind commences to wander down paths where we could have done things differently. Halt this thinking and change your mode of thinking.
Punishing yourself for the rest of your days is useless. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and forgiving toward others and so when we don’t forgive ourselves we therefore find it tough to extend forgiveness to others.
Your child’s decisions have been affected by more than merely your parenting. Keep good friends around you that are gracious and positive, and that point out your positives in life. In marriage stay united, as stressful children have a habit of causing division between parents.