Did I fail as a Parent?
An article of faith
by Evangelist Nidicka Frederick
by Evangelist Nidicka Frederick
Most parents pray for the best for their children. I know from the moment my boys were born, I’ve been persistent in asking God’s grace and mercy over their lives. But no matter how hard we may try to protect our children from the hurt, harms and dangers of the world, they are not raised in proverbial Christian bubbles. The truest essence of faith for a parent is training your child up and releasing them in to this world having confidence in the job you have done. But nothing shakes confidence and faith like seeing your child unhappy, unhealthy, disillusioned, or worse yet a participant in the ways of the world.
What happens when despite your hopes and dreams, your children don’t “turn-out” the way you had hoped for? I would venture to say that if not all, most parents have imagined how their children will turn out to be. In my mind’s eye, I have seen my sons involved in mission work, married and as incredible fathers. I have seen the adult version of my “boys” coming home for Christmas with their families to visit, sharing beautiful moments with my daughter-in-laws (who I would love especially having raised sons and no daughters) and I could even see taking my grands on the most incredible journeys. In every one of my imaginations, my boys were healthy, happy, well-adjusted, successful, Godly men who loved the Lord but who also loved and adored me. I could never have imagined the actual estrangement, difference in worldviews, and distance that would exist between me and my sons or between them as brothers. Our lives looks absolutely NOTHING like what I had imagined! In fact, it couldn’t be more opposite.
What happens when your child decides the love of their life despises you and they choose them over you? What happens when you dream of your son’s or daughter’s wedding and they announce they’re gay or simply doesn’t want to get married or have children? Or how do you handle it when the child you raised in Christ chooses a different faith or ends up faithless all together? Christian parents clash with their children raised in American culture all the time. Issues of sexual identity, sexual orientation, drug habits, and lifestyle choices (smoking, tattoos, wedlock, education, welfare, etc.) are just a few of the many issues facing parents and their young adult children on a regular basis. To this end, children of Christian parents may also end up drug addicts, alcoholics, promiscuous, and suffer with mental illness.
Many Christian parents ask, "Does my child life prove that I have failed as a parent? And this is not an easy question to answer. There are some parents who seemingly did everything right who had children who grew up worldly and there are worldly parents who did everything seemingly wrong whose children become amazing people in Christ. I believe it’s not an issue of failure that’s the true question but an issue of faith and learning how to not let your shortcoming as a person or a parent create a wedge between you and God. Its’ nearly impossible to think-but, parents cannot control or determine how their children will turn out as adults. As provocative as that statement may be, it is true and although parents can hope to be a positive push or an admired influence in their children lives, it is God, not us parents who holds the key to our children’s future.
I believe that there is a way for parents who are disappointed in their children and even resentful towards God by how their family has turned out to live in love and faith. I know this can be done because I am doing it. The first thing I must stress here is that "disappointment" does not mean that your child is living "wrong" its simply an admission to the human condition of sorrow for not getting the result you imagined. I remember telling a friend whose daughter is giving her an incredibly difficult time and withholding the grandchildren from visiting with her to stay in faith, hold on to hope and to pray. Her response knowing that I too was estranged from my son was, “Yeah, and how’s that working out for you? This article is the answer to that question.
I maintain love and faith in God that draws me closer to Him and offers me daily assurance in His sovereign will. But more important than how it’s working out for me are the steps God has bought me through to get where I am, and that these steps can also bring peace to others- so let’s start there. I used to think that the brokenness in my family meant God was turning His back on me and rejecting my praise but I learned that nothing could be further from the truth- In fact, sometimes what seems broke is just an opportunity to love more abundantly. I’d like to share three thoughts God has shared with me in this area and how meditating in these truths helps me to stay connected to my love source, God.
1. Our children should be in the image of God, not us.
This is a true statement and perhaps one that is most difficult to understand. Our children come from us biologically or by adoptive choice but it is not us or our family values which they are to resemble but instead Christ. This does not mean that we are wrong to hope for our children but it becomes sinful pride when we believe that we are so wonderful that they should be just like us and not God. The scripture says in Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as loved children…” it does not tell children to resemble their parents on earth but instead the example of their Heavenly Father. Why? Because God knows we are all sinners. No matter how good or perfect you may believe your family dynamic to be, it is still imperfect because only God is perfect. Sometimes as parents we will misinterpret God’s example in front of our children displaying behaviors such as lying to a bill collector, holding a grudge with a family member or living in fear and worrying. These common emotions show the humanness of people and our attraction to the most common of sins.
The point here is this, since we are not perfect parents we should not expect perfect children and therefore we should not panic when our children shows individuality that strays from our perfect image. True faith requires understanding that God is the example for humanity to follow and our purpose is to glorify Him. At no point does the Scripture say that children are a gift to glorify the parent yet secretly this is what many of us carry in our hearts. Yes, God wants children honor and respect their Christian parents but the glory is His, not ours. I for one was guilty of this and I am grateful to have been exposed of this latent sin.
1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2. Culture plays a BIG role in influencing our children but be careful not to declare it “the winner.”
It would be amazing if our children could lock our words of wisdom in their hearts and when anything that opposed it crept in, our words would come out and destroy it before seeds of dissent could be planted but life doesn’t work this way and we shouldn’t want it to. God wants us to choose righteousness over sin. He has given us, His children, Jesus Christ but also the freewill to believe in him or not. As parents, we didn’t raise Stepford children that are robots to our thoughts and design. As a mother, I hosted an individual human being in my body for nine months and then produced, through God’s grace, an individual made in God’s image and only me and my husband’s biological resemblance. From the beginning of life our children are determining which parts of their upbringing they will accept and which parts they will reject. Just because my children came through me, doesn’t mean that they are me and this is a good thing!
I was working on a report recently and I stated, “The Enlightenment didn’t destroy faith or religion. God provided us with historical proof of His sovereignty and we should not feel ashamed in our role as historical scholars when uncovering it. If that is what source critic’s need then we can, in both faith and scholarship, provide it.” I couldn't stop thinking about this fact as it relates to my own life. God encourages us to prove his truth through critical thinking. Christ didn't want a group of followers unable to defend their position in belief, he wanted free thinkers. Parents who fear their children interacting with the world really fear the worlds influence becoming more powerful then what they've taught their child.
When my boys were young, I pushed them to ask questions, challenge systems and learn for themselves. They could speak to their teachers about anything and use the schools system of hierarchy by first grade. I can remember kissing my sons goodnight at bedtime and telling them how much I adored their (singing in syllable) “In di vid u al it y!” and I mean it as much now (although its harder) as I did then. Let me explain how…
For a moment, I assumed the world had won them over. I thought that because they seemingly rebuked my influence and have chosen a path in which they were certain not to find me on- that meant, I lost. To the naked eye-I did lose but the battle was never mine. My eldest son’s girlfriend bragged to a friend “I did it! I’ve taken him away from them.” And this came only months, probably even weeks after I confronted her with the seriously righteous (and seemingly self-righteous I’m sure) “I don’t know who you THINK you are, but know this- NOTHING and NO ONE can EVER come BETWEEN me and MY FAMILY… NO ONE!” At that point, she was telling my youngest son that she was “stealing” his brother away from him. It would be impossible, considering the outcome, to not deem her the victor over me. After all, my words were seem untrue and her words have been the case for the past seven years, with two children later. And then in response to one of my many tearful cries in prayer, God asked me why did I believe the battle was mine? I explained to God, because she said this and I said that and look at how it all turned out? But I love God’s patience with me...
God revealed to me the reason I couldn't see the victor was because I didn't know who was in battle. God asked me, "Do you love me?" I said, " Yes!" He asked, "Do you believe in me?" I said, " Of course, Yes. !" He said, "The how could this possibly be your battle and not mine? What is it that you think you have that Satan wants? Clearly, what Satan is after already belongs to me. My battle is already won." This changed my entire perspective!
I realized that this was not about me and her, me and my sons or any physical person; this is about Satan wanting what he cannot have and trying his best to cause us to sin so we can “relinquish” what is God’s to him. This is God’s battle. I remember seeking Ephesians 6:10-11 in this and having it confirmed to me just as the Apostle Paul confirmed it to the early church in Ephesus, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." It is God's might and power alone who can overcome Satan. I have no strength of my own but when God goes in to battle, His battle is already won.
3. Peace can be found in the wait.
I’m trying to stay cognizant that not everyone is an avid reader so I’d like to keep this somewhat brief without leaving out any parts of my heart. This is important and I need emphasis placed on this truth, you can find peace in your life right now regardless of where you stand in your circumstance if you turn your heart to God. Again, this is something I live and breathe so bear in mind my passion is evidenced by God’s grace. It is not a sin to hurt, experience sadness or depression, or to feel abandoned by God and cry out to Him in prayer. God knows that we are human that we are expected to experience the gamut of human emotions. It becomes sinful however when we allow our distress to steal our faith because this separates us from God. So, for me to be frustrated and angry that it’s been years since I’ve experienced a loving moment between me and my son is not sinful; believing in my heart that the Enemy has won and that my family will never be whole again because the circumstance is bigger than God- is sinful to the max!
Peace is found in faith. It is found in believing that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Once you put things in to its proper perspective, everything else is rather clear. Living your life angry, depressed and in constant discontent does nothing but places a wedge between you and God. It most certainly will not change one situation in your life for the better. I love that Jesus equates worrying with the behavior of sinners and asks can it add even an hour to our life! (Matt 6:25-34) God wants us to know peace. This topic is so important to me that I’m working on a book by that same title. (Before I Know Peace- available for download December 2017)
We are not in control of everything and as much as we’d like to believe that we are both the question and the answer in life, this is simply not true. This article is being written very specifically with parents and their young adult-adult children in mind but the principles can easily be applied to any broken relationship in your life. I believe the fundamental truths I’m trying to impart here is to have faith. Our children are not perfect because perfection is not of this earth to possess. We are sinners and we have birthed sinners in to a sinful world. Our first and best defense for our children is to acknowledge our limitation as parents and to led them in the way they should go. If you have taught your children the name Jesus Christ, then rest in the promise of God. If you have not. It is never too late. If your children are already older and you have not given them Christ- pray and ask God’s forgiveness and intervention in their lives today. God is a merciful God and will receive your prayers. If your children are still young, teach them now. If your children can recite Jingle Bells and the words to their favorite contemporary songs but does not know how to pray, how to use the Bible or can recite the Lord’s Prayer- there is still work to do that can easily be done.
Remember that the Enemy is not the author of your life and he can claim no victory over your circumstance…only you can give him the victory. Choose instead to know who the battle belongs to and rest in God’s power and might knowing that His battle is already won. And finally live in peace. Joy is a wonderful way to show God you trust Him. Love is not optional. Love in your circumstance regardless of whether you feel loved in return. If God is for you, who can be against you? If people are laughing behind your back, chuckling at your despair, mocking you and looking down at you- Let them! Your job in Christ is to keep your head up! Know that God is your judge and that He will vindicate you and your family. Continue to pray in faith and believe beyond all human belief that God is always working for the good of those who love him.
Brokenness in your family does not mean you’re a failure. In fact, God is offering you in that place of division to draw closer to Him and His Word. God’s love abounds regardless of what the Enemy is trying to tell you and you can overcome any obstacle with heartfelt praise. Don’t allow your human emotions to cause you to sin against God; feel and then surrender it all. And in response to my friend who asked, “…how’s it working out for me?” I pray this article makes it evident- It’s working out for me perfectly because I serve an Awesome God.
Don't let the discussion end here. Whether you agree or disagree, Let's Talk! Do you have a question about this article or someone you’d like me to pray for? Is your family experiencing a season of division and you’d like to pray? Write, text or email me and continue this conversation.