I want the best for my children. As a father of five kids, it’s sometimes tough to juggle all their requests and needs. My oldest son wants to go go hang out with friends while my youngest ones want to go to the park. I try to accommodate both but have that nagging desire for control. I want to know where my kids are even though I want them to have their freedom. It’s a tension I live in and I imagine that many parents might have similar tensions.
Do I prevent my kids from doing what they want to do? Prevention typically leads to retaliation in one form or another. So what’s the way to handle it? I believe my task as a parent is to teach my kids. I need to help them learn how to make good decisions that will effect not only their wellbeing but their friends and others around them.
This is easy to understand when I teach them how to not bike down a steep ravine. I want them to be physically safe and prevent their friends from following a potentially dangerous outcome. But it’s a little more difficult of a task to teach them how to handle conversations that they might have with friends when someone is making fun of someone else. I could say “don’t join in,” but there’s really more to it than that. They need to stand up for the ones who can’t stand up for themselves. They need to be ready to gently correct the one who’s name calling. But that’s not an altruistic blanket teaching. It’s situational. It’s messy. It takes failing at some of those conversations and situations and debriefing what happened so that learning can take place.
I believe that’s what God does with us as His children too. The apostle John had this desire for people he taught and considered children as well. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4 John. God, and pretty much all parents have this kind of desire for their children. If our kids can learn what is true, good, and right in this world and walk in those ways then we’ll be doing pretty well. Not that it becomes a means of our salvation, but it’s a way of living because we’ve realized the Truth.
I believe that Jesus is the Truth and that He teaches me and all of His children how to make the good decisions in life. He helps me to see who I am in light of what He has done instead of whether I am doing things right or wrong. He helps me to see how the situations where I have failed to speak up for those who are weak or where I have put my foot in my mouth can be redeemed by His Word and His Truth. He brings peace into our relationships and He brings hope to those in despair. In light of all that He does I now am enabled to walk in the truth. I can see His work in my life and the people around me, and I can rest knowing that it doesn’t all depend on me.
Will my kids make mistakes? Of course they will. Will I make mistakes? Undoubtedly. But in both circumstances I am thankful for the grace of God where He pours out His Truth, love, and forgiveness over and over again.