“If you were just a better parent, then…(fill in the blank); If we could just get the parents involved; If the parents would just quit dropping their kids off at church and going to Starbucks; If parents would just do more then their children would turn out better.”
Have you heard some of these statements before? As if the burden of parenting is not hard enough, we heap on more blame and guilt for parents. As if they haven’t had some of these thoughts already themselves. There has to be someone to blame (or credit) for the state of the spiritual lives of our young people today, doesn’t there?
Look, I’m a parent. I get it. I have a 16 year old and a 20 year old. I’m constantly wondering if their upbringing has shaped them to be the person God intends. My wife and I talk about our influence on them (or if we still have any influence). The bottom line is, we want them to know Jesus in a way that they won’t walk away from him in their young years…or ever. It is our hope that they pursue Jesus for the rest of their lives.
There is some truth that there are no guaranties in this life. As parents, we can’t totally control how our children are going to turn out. But it’s not our role as parents to control them, it is our role to nurture them. This is something we can do. We can love them with all our being. We can talk less and listen more. We can bring them to the foot of the Cross. So here are some ideas:
Church– please quit blaming parents for their lack of spirituality. Instead, sit down with parents and listen to them. Love them unconditionally and work together on how you can best be Spirit bearers for young people. Be a partner.
Parents– quit blaming yourself and start celebrating all that is incredible about your child(ren).
Here are a few things you can do:
1. Start early- Sit them on your lap and read God’s story with them.
2. Start now- If you did not start early, dump the guilt and start now. Simply spend time with them and welcome times to listen to them about their spiritual questions and longings.
3. Seek God- Perhaps the best thing we can do as parents is to spend time in growing closer to Jesus ourselves. When our relationship with God is moving and growing, there is a good chance that it will rub off on our children.
4. Forgive yourself- yes, you’ve messed up. So have I and every parent. Forgiving ourselves can help us move deeper into relationship with God and others.
Finally, let’s stop the blame game and celebrate these precious lives God has entrusted to us. It is meant to be a gift not a burden. They are in God’s hands.