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It’s your fault – another Parenting Myth

March 26th, 2010

When you see a misbehaving child running wild around the store, what is your first thought? If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Where are the parents?? They ought to be controlling their kid!”

The assumption is that when a child misbehaves, the parents are responsible. If the parents were doing their job, then the child wouldn’t be running around the store. To expand that further, we have the idea that the way our children turn out is determined by how we well, or poorly, we raise them. If our children are rebellious, we ask, “Where did I go wrong?” To some extent, this is true that parents have a heavy responsibility. As with all myths, there is some truth to it. But it is a Parenting Myth that our children’s behavior is a direct result of what we do as parents, and that it’s entirely our fault when they misbehave.

To be honest, we give ourselves too much credit – for the good and the bad. I often take pride in myself when my children do something well. *Pat on the back* “I did a pretty good job with my kids,” I say with satisfaction.

But I know that I’ve made countless mistakes with my children  – I’ve yelled too much, I’ve been unfair, I didn’t spend enough time with them…the list goes on. When they do something well, they did it in spite of bad parenting.

The same is true on the flip side. When our children misbehave, they do so in spite of our good parenting efforts. Our children’s lives-good or bad- is not the sum total of  our parenting efforts.  Our children also have a free will. They choose to obey or disobey us.

I’ve mentioned here that my son is 22 years old this year. He’s on his own now. As I learn to let go of my son, I realize that I’ve never had a firm grip on him; he has  never been totally under my control anyway. Really, letting him go isn’t that hard. Even in his childhood, he exercised his free will – deciding to go hiking rather than playing basketball, joining the school clubs that interested him, and later, choosing his major in college.  And yes, he ran around the store when I told him not to.

I can’t take the credit when my kids succeed, nor the burden when they fail.

Our kids make choices that went against our advice. And at the same time, we see them making good decisions that didn’t come from us.

Parents certainly have the responsibility to raise our children the best we can. That’s what this blog is all about. But we’d be thinking too highly of ourselves if we take full responsibility for our children’s actions.

While we have little control, God is sovereign. I just have to remember to keep praying for my children.

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