A few years ago, the Atlantic published an article listing 12 things parents should never do to their children if they didn’t want to mess them up forever. The top of the list? You should never “threaten to leave your kids behind.”
But what if you do? That would be bad, right?
What could make it worse?
Blaming the child. That’s what could make it worse. And that’s what Mary did to Jesus.
Like the Christmas comedy Home Alone, the mother of the Christ and the adoptive father entrusted to care for Him in His childhood abandoned Him. And when they found Him, they blamed Him.
What’s that tell you and me? It gives us a very clear-cut answer to the question, are you messing up your kids?
If the mother of Christ had a few bad moments, who are we to think we’ll escape ours? We’ve messed up, and that creates a mess to live in sometimes.
We’ll start with me. I’m messed up. Life hasn’t gone perfectly for me, and sometimes that’s because I sin. I just seem to figure out one area of brokenness, drag it to Jesus for fixing, and then (after an all-too-brief season of the easy life) I find I’m broken in yet another area and need my Jesus still more. How thankful I am for grace!
As I’ve counseled moms around the globe, I’ve seen that most mothers fear that their own personal areas of brokenness will cause their children’s brokenness. Moms who have mother wounds struggle with fear that they’ll wound their kids in the same way. Single moms who became pregnant in their teen years fear that their daughters will follow their path and become pregnant as teens. Divorced moms fear that their children will struggle with depression or an eating disorder solely because they don’t have a father. Working moms fear they’ve given their children a fear of rejection from all their absent hours. Stay-at-home-moms fear their impatient moments will leave a mark on their children. One thing is certain—when we are aware of our own sin, we often struggle with fear for our children.
Let me tell you the answer I’ve found for my own heart: This fear isn’t from God.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
Any chronic, persistent fear is a sign that we should evaluate how the enemy is at work in our minds. You don’t have to live in paralyzing fear that your messed-up past is going to mess up your kid’s future.
You may be thinking, Wait a minute, I thought you just said that we are going to mess up our kids.
Yep. I did. And we are.
But we don’t have to live in chronic fear.
Our sin puts our kids at risk—but we don’t have to fear it. Both of these seemingly contradictory statements are true.
My sins do make my children vulnerable. From the sins of my past, to yelling at them instead of lovingly and constructively correcting them, to disrespecting their dad in front of them… my brokenness hurts them. I’ve admitted this to them on a few occasions with a promise to pay for counseling in the future!
The grace of God truly covers everything you and I could ever possibly fear. Christ died for our sins so we don’t have to—that fact has great meaning when it comes to generational bondage and curses. Brace yourself for this dose of great grace.
For me, that’s been a great healing balm and the answer to my fear-filled question, am I messing up my kids? I don’t have to live in fear. Rather, I can grasp God’s goodness for my children in faith.
My choice has been to…
Pursue healing from Jesus for my past with all my heart, soul, and mind so that I will be a good example of purity, faith, and love for my children as opposed to impurity, fear, and brokenness.
Claim the truth that Christ’s death promises that my children are freed from generational bondage—not because I’ve done anything, but because Christ has broken the bondage in my life.
Rest in the fact that when your children do mess up in the ways you have—or any other ways—Christ’s grace is big enough for them too.
I’m preparing for my children’s brokenness like police officers wait for speeding drivers. They don’t carry blank speeding tickets because they believe no one is ever going to speed. They know we will break the law, and they’re prepared for it.
Your kids are going to be at least a little messed up. Be prepared.
From The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces by Dannah Gresh