Blog Post by Rodney A. Wilson
Rodney Wilson is a regular guest post writer on Selma on Leadership. Rodney has been a marriage and family pastor/counselor for almost 20 years. Rodney and Selma have been married for 40 years and they have spoken and written on marriage and family issues for most of their married life.
We all have a past and that includes the way we parented our kids. Some of those memories are sweet and some are nightmarish. Here are a few personal memories that will hopefully encourage both the empty nesters and the current child-rearing parents. So, it’s confession time.
Here are 3 mistakes I made as a dad:
- I was too lenient. Contrary to what my two daughters would say, I was too lenient in some areas. For example, we never got them to bed on time in the summer. My kids lost lots of sleep in the warm season because we let them stay up watching movies, reading books or just playing. A bedtime is a bedtime and I should have kept it through the summer and holidays, all year long.
There was even one school night when I knew there would be a meteor shower coming that I woke them up in the middle of the night – 3:00 AM! – and asked them if they’d like to go with me to our deck in the back and watch the shooting stars. They both said yes, of course. Mommy spread a blanket and pillows for us on our hard wooden deck. All kinds of sleep was lost but we counted over 100 shooters that night. It was a truly magical night but perhaps I should have been more rigid and not caused them to lose so much sleep.
- I was too strict. There were times I should not have enforced the rules as firmly as I did. One rule we had is that everyone wouId respect everyone else in our family. I sometimes spoke harshly at them when they disrespected their mother or each other. I remember strongly saying one time, “You two will not talk about my wife that way!” Too strict. Way too strict. Kids get their feelings hurt and I should have backed off.
Or how about the times I made them do their homework each night. Making sure they got their assignments completed in a timely manner made me look like a bad guy. Sometimes they genuinely didn’t like me. Yes, one of them graduated summa cum laude and the other is now a Physicians Assistant but should I have been so strict on the schoolwork when they were kids? I mean they really didn’t like me at times.
- I was too hard on myself. This one is for real. The lame stories above were intentionally lame to show the absurdity many parents go to regret the fact that they parented imperfectly at times. Parenting is at times a guilt-ridden experience for every parent. If you are in the middle of it right now, you will mess up some. If you are in reflection mode in your empty nest, you look back with some regrets just like all of us do.
Let me tell you the tree house story. It was something I promised the girls that I would build for them when we first moved into our home in a tight cluster of 4-5 huge hackberry trees. It was the perfect spot for one. Alas, as Harry Chapin once said, “… but there were planes to catch and bills to pay” and the tree house never got built. I have apologized to my kids many times. Here’s their reply to my latest apology: “Dad, it’s okay. Get some help. Release this. We forgive you… again!” It was time to let this issue go!
So what do we do with this guilt-ridden experience? Are we doomed with it? Yes, but only if we continue to feed the regrets. A better plan would be to confess (once) the wrong we have done, to our kids if needed, and to the Lord. Then trust the grace of the Lord. Hopefully you will get your kids’ forgiveness as I did. Regardless, the Lord’s forgiveness is a sure thing. I John 1:9 tells us:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
My favorite word in that verse is all. That includes the bonehead choices we make in our parenting. Trust His Word. It is true. Grace and forgiveness await you.
Finally, while we will make our share of parenting mistakes, do not be flippant about it. Each of us should make every effort to be the best parent we can be. We should care about how we raise our children. We should use available resources to make sure we are doing all we can. One such resource is The Parent Adventure. (Shameless plug. It was written by Selma and me!)
But when our best efforts come up short, let’s look to our kids and to our Lord with honesty about our shortcomings, confess them and move on. Let’s give ourselves grace as parents and trust God’s grace. We will function as more confident and effective parents if we do.When we come up short, let’s look to our kids and to our Lord with honesty about our shortcomings, confess them and move on. Click To Tweet