As parents, we have a tendency to put our children’s behaviors onto our own shoulders. When they are doing well, we give ourselves a pat on the back. When they misbehave, we berate ourselves and stress over how we could be doing better. Sometimes, it’s important to understand that our children are just human. They have free will and not everything that goes wrong is our fault.
Maybe it’s just me, but when my children act out or misbehave I tend to ask myself what I did wrong. Was there something I could have done differently; am I missing an area in my parenting or character training; or is this an act of rebellion due to something I’ve done?
Now, don’t get me wrong. (Because I always feel the need to qualify.) Sometimes we are the cause of our children’s issues; we frustrate them, hurt them, or just flat-out make mistakes. We are human, too. However, we also need to realize that there comes a time when our children need to own up to their own actions and take responsibility.
Our children are human, just like us. They, too, will make mistakes and need to mature. While it is a good idea to take stock of each stumble and learn valuable lessons, not every stumble is the parents’ fault; this is especially true as our children grow up.
Children, just like parents, have the ability to choose good; to do the right thing. Our job as parents is to model and train them to choose the good. We cannot force the good upon them or make them into robots who will perform well on command. If we are doing our part, we need to allow our children to do their part; mainly, to make those choices on their own.
When our children choose well, we commend them and encourage them to continue. When they choose poorly, we help them learn the lesson and redirect them onto the right path. If our children refuse to choose the good or refuse to be brought back to a better starting point, that is not our fault. They are expressing and demonstrating their free will.
Take stock of each situation. If you could be doing better; do so! However, if you are doing your best and your children are still struggling, learn to let it go. You are doing your part, their choices are not your fault.
Does this mean we have no recourse? Absolutely not! We do the only thing we can do: pray! Pray, and pray hard. Ask the Lord to convict them, guide them to where they ought to be, and bring them back into a right relationship with the family. Prayer is very powerful, don’t underestimate it.
At the end of the day, we are all fallen creatures with free will. Our children are no different from us, they just have a few more lessons to learn. Train them well, disciple their hearts, and help them make those wise choices. If they should choose poorly, instead of heaping on the self-inflicted guilt, focus on the lesson. Not everything they do is your fault.
Time to Chime In: Do you feel guilty when your children act out or rebel? How do you overcome your own self-doubt and move forward?
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – I John 2:1