Who said parenting was easy? Nobody I know. And I bet, nobody you know either. Let’s face it—parenting is hard! Especially when your child decides to go in a direction opposite than where you are leading them. Let’s be honest, it feels like a punch to the center of your gut, when you’re leading your child up the high road, and he or she decides to take the low one.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with someone finding their “own path.” I mean, ultimately isn’t that what we really want, for our children, as parents? The difficulty is when the path they choose leads to destruction. Even more difficult, is when they like that path and refuse to believe it will lead to their demise—even though we, as parents, are witnessing it every day they choose to walk that specific path. When I speak of demise, I speak not only to the death of their dreams, passions, and drive; but also physical death. What is one to do, as a parent, when you know the life your child has chosen will lead to their death, if they do not change? Cry. Been there, done that. It changed nothing! Worry. Did that too! It only affected the psyche. Negatively, that is. Parenting books and internet searches—while they assist, they do not relieve the distress of the soul completely. Even binging sweets and immersing deep into work and other activities, is only a temporary salve. So once again, I ask the question—What is one to do, as a parent, when you know the life your child has chosen will lead to their death? I can tell you what I do. I pray!
Pray. Why? And to Who? Out of desperation, I chose to pray to God. See—throughout my life, I had been taught that when I wanted to figure out how something was supposed to work—I just needed to read the instructions that came with it. Instructions in a box seemed to be an extremely important item. Without them, many people are lost! Actually, without instructions, many never figure out how to use an item to its fullest potential. Instructions provide not only understanding, but also insight into how an item is purposed to function and or exist. But why do we trust instructions so much? Because they were created by the manufacturer of the item. In other words, by its creator. And we know, creators can always tell us how something is supposed to work—because they made it!
So, I figured, as a parent, that if I wanted “instructions” regarding how my children were purposed to function, then I better go to the manufacturer. And the manufacturer, or should I say, Creator of mankind, I believe is God. So that’s why I chose to pray to Him. Really! What would I have to lose? I’d tried everything else, to no complete avail. Everyone seems to trust in the instruction manuals, so why not trust God’s.
So, I continue to pray. And truthfully, I see change in the lives of my children. I won’t say it’s an instant 180 degree turn, however, I must say it is truly advancement in the right direction. Even more importantly, is the change I see in myself. Although, I would not wish my parenting journey on others, I would say, that I would not change it, for the world. These parenting challenges have truly molded me into the stronger and wiser woman I’ve become today. I am proud of the woman I have become and am still becoming. I have come to realize that tears can be the necessary water to cause things to grow versus to drown. I’ve also learned that parenting challenges can create discipline and stamina versus disorder and weakness. I discovered that while standing in the chaos of a parenting challenge, I could have genuine inner peace. Finally, I’ve learned that parenting challenges can birth the heart of unconditional love versus. loving with conditions. It’s all in how we, as parents, choose to navigate the challenges. Moreover, it’s knowing that, as a parent – you can and will get through the challenge with victory.
Victory. I use to think victory was all about winning. But this ideology means that if there is a winner, then there must be a loser. Additionally, this thought process, can and often does create tension within the parent-child relationship, as we (parents) struggle to be victorious by staying in the top seat of control over our children. I’m not in competition with my children, nor do I have a desire to defeat them. As parents, we should all have this mindset. Furthermore, my parenting journey has revealed to me, that our goal, as a parents, should not be to “win” but to “unconditionally love and guide” our children into their success. This makes for what I call a “bilateral victory” once achieved. Often referred to as a “win-win.” In other words, I am not victorious, until my child is victorious in the challenging areas of his or her life.
When will a child who has lost their way, find their way? Only God knows. That’s why I choose to stay in communication (prayer) with Him. What I do know, is that hope is the fuel, and faith is the vehicle that I must use to obtain bilateral victory. We must hope for our children, when they do not and cannot hope for themselves. We must learn to carry their burdens, without judgment, embarrassment, or shame. Being embarrassed about how your child’s behavior looks to others, is a symptom of pride. After all, we make it about ourselves, when the focus should be on the well-being of our children. Covering our children is important, even when they are in the wrong. Covering and enabling are different.
As I said in the beginning, parenting is not easy! However, it does make you a better person. If you embrace it fully. Never give up on your children. Learn to look past their behavior, no matter how hurtful it may be. Be disciplined in your perseverance for their success. Stay committed to the process of healthy parenting. Believe it or not, the process is not designed to make you a great parent. It’s designed to make you a great person, regardless of the outcome.