You’ve been a good, loving, conscientious parent. You did the best you could. You thought you did it all right, you even took your child to church so they would believe in God and know right from wrong. You provided everything you thought was necessary for them to have a great life. But, somehow, you find yourself facing terribly painful situations with them that you never saw coming and you beat yourself up about it. You’re so hard on yourself, convinced it’s all your fault.
Your son or daughter has developed an addiction. They smoke pot every day. They need alcohol to function. They’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness (brain disorder) and either refuse treatment or can’t find the right medications. They’ve attempted suicide and been hopeless many times. Your daughter’s pregnant, or your son got a girl pregnant and they’re not getting married. They might live together or not even have a relationship with the parent of their baby. Or maybe they told you they’re going to have an abortion – or you found out they already did.
Your daughter looks like a walking a skeleton from an eating disorder. Some cut themselves on arms, legs and stomachs. Your son is adversely affected by an addiction to pornography. Your child told you they’re gay and may be getting married – children could be in their future (or already are). Your child is in jail waiting for a trial with an unknown outcome; or they’re in prison serving a sentence.
If you’re like me, you tend to blame yourself. We’re so good at that. We have to know why. We have to figure it out. It only makes sense to us if we can point to something we did or didn’t do. Where did we go wrong? We heap mounds of guilt on our heads. It’s crushing us.
Finish these sentences and see if it helps reveal what you’re thinking. Pay attention to your first impressions:
I should’ve _____________________.
I didn’t ________________________.
I never ________________________.
I couldn’t ________________________.
I wish I had ______________________.
If only __________________________.
Consider your answers. They might reveal a few lies that need to be replaced with truth. What really matters is what God says.
If you come to realize you’re weighing yourself down with guilt and blame, remember this: God was the only perfect parent. He made no mistakes. He did nothing wrong, yet look what his first two children (Adam and Eve) did! We know we weren’t perfect, but there’s nothing we did that could cause our children to have the issues they’re facing. If God, the perfect parent, couldn’t guarantee an outcome, why do we think we deserve better?
We may realize something we need forgiveness for – we can bring it to God, accept His forgiveness, then forgive ourselves. He might impress us to ask our child for forgiveness. I did that and it helped improve our relationship. It turned out to be a big blessing.
Mom, dad, please stop being so hard on yourself. Let go of guilt. Give it to God. Let Him take it from you. Your child’s choices are exactly that – theirs. They choose how they’ll respond to the circumstances of their lives. Keep loving them, trust God, and wait. Wait guilt-free.
And take His peace. The Bible says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
*If you’d like to receive encouraging emails from me, then go to our Hope for Hurting Parents website and sign up. Click here. You can choose the frequency – once a week, 3 or 6 times a week.
* If you’d like prayer for your “prodigal”, I invite you to submit your child’s name for our Day of Prayer for Prodigals on June 2nd (a ministry of Cru). Message me your email address and I will send you an email invitation to the Prayer for Prodigals website. Christians from all over the world will pray for your child on that day. I’ll explain more about this in my next blog.