I grew up in a family culture where appearance was everything; how the family appeared to others, how the kids appeared to the parents and how the parents appeared to the kids. Children are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for and can spot a hypocrite in a “New York minute.” It’s difficult to build a healthy relationship with people who are not honest with themselves, much less you. So from childhood I knew that when I had kids I would admit when I was wrong, especially in the way I dealt with them, and apologize.
A couple of nights ago I lost my temper with one of my sons and said some things that hurt his heart. As soon as I said them I wished I could take them back, but honestly I was still too upset to say anything better so I just left it alone. Later on as I drove down the road for what’s now known as my “personal time,” I remembered what I’d said to him and that I hadn’t addressed it. I called to talk to him. He was still listening to his MP3 Player. I explained the emotions behind what I said, that my words were wrong and the truth of what God’s Word says about the both of us. He responded casually saying he’d forgotten all about it but the heaviness in his voice betrayed him. Just as casually I told him I was calling to apologize.
Immediately his voice lightened like bubbles released in a freshly opened soda bottle. It was the sound of relief mixed with respect. Instantly, he told me he forgave me and he loved me before wishing me a good time. Those moments for me as a mom are my most humbling yet rewarding. I did for my son what wasn’t done for me. I showed him I was human, which is the reason I needed a Savior, and Jesus’ impact on my life.
A good Christian parent is not one who has it all together. It’s a parent who authentically lives out their discipleship journey before their children. One who can admit their failures as quickly as share their triumphs…all by the grace of God. That kind of parenting both disciples and builds a genuine bond between parent and child. For the record, my parents did the best they knew how. But there’s a saying that says “when you know better, do better” and with God’s wisdom He is doing that better in me every day (Philippians 2:13, NIV).
I know I’m completely biased when I say I have the best kids in the world. They’re as much as a blessing to me as I am to them!
© Vanessa A. Harris and The Legacy of Faith, 2012.