Fi’s been reading a book lately titled ‘Loving Your Kids on Purpose’. I should read it when she’s done as well.
The book spent last week on our staircase just asking to be read some more. A couple of days back, half way up the stairs, Molly spied it there, picked it up, and read the title. A conversation resulted.
Molly (in questioning tone): ‘Loving Your Kids on Purpose’?? What’s this book about?
Fi: It’s a parenting book.
Molly: A parenting book?
Fi: Yes, as in a book on being a parent.
Molly: But, Mum, you already are a parent.
Fi: Yes, but I read books to help me to be a better parent. Like this one is about how to make sure you and Clovey still feel loved even when we disagree about stuff. It’s also helping me work on disciplining you without getting angry.
Molly: Yeah, I can tell you’ve been working on that.
Fi: Aw, thanks, Molly, I really want to get better with this sort of thing.
The next day I was catching up with a couple of guys that I meet regularly; one with a young daughter, the other expecting his first son.
We talked about our knack for wanting to ‘perfect the art of parenting’ away from the action, so we can present ourselves as prime specimens before our children. Essentially, we wanted our kids to see us as great parents without them seeing that we needed or wanted to grow as parents. Without them seeing our struggles and failures as parents.
I had the occasional wart when I was in primary school. They’re horrible things. I remember having to daube some potent, probably carcinogenic, liquid on them and then cover them up with a band-aid, so they could shrivel up and disappear away from sight.
That may work for warts, and hiding them helps the social stigma, but it’s not the best parenting strategy.
Children need to know they are loved. Amidst the desire to discipline, correct, encourage and grow them, they also need to know that they are loved by imperfect people. Parents who get angry with their kids, parents who argue, and, in the midst of those struggles, want to become better parents. Indeed, we want to be healed from the stuff that trips us up and regularly pray to see that happen in our lives.
It’s been said that one of the great gifts you can give your children is showing them how to argue well. Not to never argue. Not to only argue behind closed doors. But to disagree, argue, resolve and stay reconciled to one another.
Many children have never seen a good argument. Some children have never seen an argument. Either way, they haven’t had good arguments modelled for them so they’re left to either fill in the blanks or think that any argument must be catastrophic.
Children need to see our warts. Not so they can gawk at them and be damaged by their effects but because they, too, are part of the journey of us becoming healed and whole. And, as they are, we powerfully model what repentance and forgiveness look like in action.
Your kids may think you can do no wrong but, regardless, they don’t want you to be as perfect as you might think. They want you to love them warts and all and, remarkably, they’re prepared to accept that we may have a few warts of our own.
You know you do. Further, though they may not have the vocabulary and framework to describe it, they know, too. Our words and actions and confession of our frailty are part of what brings foundation and structure to the little lives we’re growing; lives that aren’t built on the platform of perfect parents, but the foundation of a perfect Saviour.
Let your kids see your warts. Not for the sake of grandstanding your garbage, but so that they can see you seeking Jesus to make you healed and whole and fully dependent upon Him. There could be no greater gift.