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Monday, March 10, 2008

Parents Are Truth To Children

Parents, until a certain age, your children believe that everything you say and do is right and normal. No one has more to say about the cultural and moral realities about children than parents. You are their truth...until a certain age.

And then there is an age when children can determine truth without you. This is entirely a good thing, a developmental necessity. What you hope as a parent is that when your child learns to determine truth without you, that what you have done up until that point still looks like truth to the child. If your parenting has been untrue in the early years, the children will likely spend the rest of his or her life unlearning you. The process of unlearning a person is painful for all involved and is likely to have poor relational outcomes.

Now, there is hope for parents who have done poorly when their children were younger. Own the wrongs. Not always, but often, when children become adults, they can forgive their parents wrongs when the parent owns those wrongs. Parents who insist that they were great parents when they were not and do not admit their wrongs OR parents who give up to their wrongs and don't even try to change are less likely to find forgiveness.

Here's the take away message: In the early years of childhood, parents are truth. In the later years of childhood and into adulthood, parents are compared to independent ideas of truth. Gross mismatches are damaging. But no matter how bad things have become, there is always redemption in seeking to be a truer person.

5 comments:

Marshall Brown said...

“Parents who insist that they were great parents when they were not and do not admit their wrongs OR parents who give up to their wrongs and don't even try to change are less likely to find forgiveness.”

Sometimes I think parents don't "admit" their wrongs because they have created their own reality in which they honestly believe they didn't make any mistakes. They don't know they should seek forgiveness because in their own minds they've done nothing wrong.

That doesn't absolve them from seeking to be honest about themselves and their parenting skills, but I think it demonstrates how some parents arrive at the conclusion that they did a "good job."

Brad Wright said...

My kids must be precocious... they figured out at an early age that I am often wrong. :-)

JGonzalez said...

I have an 8 year old son, who still believes I can do anything. He believes I know everything. We have silly and awesome creative ideas togehter... every day... and he trusts me.

This is both awesome and terrifying at the same time. In my alone moments, I cry over this because if he only knew the depth of my faults and weakness, he'd likely cry too.

Marshall is right, though, there is no absolution... period. My son struggles with the idea of loving God more than me... but for him to grow, he must. That is a harsh truth (meant from the perspective of an 8 year old), but one that comes with flawless rewards. Whereas my rewards to him as a parent (as Chris pointed out), come with flaws, baggage, mis-truths, etc.

To Chris's point, "hiding," with my 8 year old in a world of bliss is very enticing... and we do have our fun. But the real world does not go away, nor does the colossal responsibiilty of raising a child. I always wished that a person in the process of deciding to have children would be given the gift of 'one forshadowing'. A 5 minute clip... pages flipping, perhaps... of what it would be like to raise kids... magically conveying emotion as well.

Final prattle... I also have a 15 year old daughter who has had me figured out for some time now, and (I think) has a written list of my known faults. For certain, though, my IQ diminishes by the minute with respect to her. While I have degrees in math and chemistry, I am no longer qualified to help her with her math anymore. That really hurt.

JGonzalez said...

I have an 8 year old son, who still believes I can do anything. He believes I know everything. We have silly and awesome creative ideas togehter... every day... and he trusts me.

This is both awesome and terrifying at the same time. In my alone moments, I cry over this because if he only knew the depth of my faults and weakness, he'd likely cry too.

Marshall is right, though, there is no absolution... period. My son struggles with the idea of loving God more than me... but for him to grow, he must. That is a harsh truth (meant from the perspective of an 8 year old), but one that comes with flawless rewards. Whereas my rewards to him as a parent (as Chris pointed out), come with flaws, baggage, mis-truths, etc.

To Chris's point, "hiding," with my 8 year old in a world of bliss is very enticing... and we do have our fun. But the real world does not go away, nor does the colossal responsibiilty of raising a child. I always wished that a person in the process of deciding to have children would be given the gift of 'one forshadowing'. A 5 minute clip... pages flipping, perhaps... of what it would be like to raise kids... magically conveying emotion as well.

Final prattle... I also have a 15 year old daughter who has had me figured out for some time now, and (I think) has a written list of my known faults. For certain, though, my IQ diminishes by the minute with respect to her. While I have degrees in math and chemistry, I am no longer qualified to help her with her math anymore. That really hurt.

Brad Wright said...

My kids must be precocious... they figured out at an early age that I am often wrong. :-)