Monday, May 2, 2011

Home Sweet Home - 2

Ah home, that idyllic place where we are unconditionally loved and always supported no matter what!

Wait a minute - does anyone really have a home like that? For most of us, memories of our childhood home is bittersweet. We have wonderful memories that give us warm fuzzies and then we have those memories that might not be so fuzzy. A lot of people find it difficult to look at their childhood, figure out the good and the bad, and then decide what to do with the bad. It can be messy and painful and many of us feel guilty for finding fault with our parents.

In the majority of cases (not all, but the majority), I think most parents really try to do the best they can with what they've got. Just like us, our parents were people with their own issues and stresses outside of their parenting role and they couldn't do the right or best thing all the time.

My Dad always said that in life, "you do the best you can at the time and then move on." I think he had a good point. Berating ourselves (or our parents) for bad parenting moments isn't really helpful for the future. Recognizing where we or our parents might have made better choices and learning from that recognition is helpful.

Guilt and anger are not productive emotions. They stifle us and cause us to simply spin our wheels. If we wallow in them too long, they become a way for us to avoid making necessary changes in our lives because they are good distractions. They make us feel like we are doing something, when in actuality, we are doing nothing.

Looking at our mistakes or our parent's mistakes, and then trying to find ways to correct those mistakes in the future is productive. Focusing on how we want to respond the next time our child is disrespectful ( or lies, or brings home a 'C') is much more likely to help us become better parents than focusing ad nauseum on our guilt over our last reaction. (Thinking forward instead of backward will probably also have a positive effect on your relationships with your parents, spouse and friends as well!)

Just as God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him, we need to forgive ourselves in areas where we have failed. We also need to free ourselves from the past by forgiving our parents for their failures. Part of growing up is seeing our parents as individuals with their own issues (just like us) rather than people who were put on earth solely to support us. Part of becoming a good parent, is recognizing that we are not going to do it right every time and that God (and our kids!) will keep giving us chances to practice.

We all have strengths and weaknesses - it is how God made us - and we will get to practice strengthening those weaknesses a lot. So ask God for help and when you have to respond in a weak area and try to see it as a challenge to be won rather than an automatic defeat. A little improvement goes a long way.

CS

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

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