As a growing parent, I am continually in the fast lane of learning every day what it means to be an effective parent. So much wisdom is needed, and nothing can fully prepare you for the journey ahead. I find I am in a constant laboratory of growth, learning what is effective and what is a hinderance.
I find that so many parents are working overtime in their pursuit to be “great parents.” They immerse themselves into learning the strategies and techniques that will help them win the “parent of the century” award. Yet one of the things that is often ignored when it comes to hinderances of effective parenting is a big one–our own unresolved brokeness.
It is important to recognize when we are parenting our children, not for their own good, but out of our own brokenness. This is not something to beat ourselves up with, for every parent has areas of brokenness that effect their present behaviors. Sometimes we can be so focused on what is happening with our children that we are unaware of our own junk that is effecting the situation the most.
It can really be helpful if we recognize that brokenness and let God work in it. If not, our sense of discernment can become diluted and our junk can easily become transposed on how we raise the children God has placed in our care.
Here are some of the common parental traps we can fall into that stem from our unresolved brokenness.
1. Living your lost dreams through your children.
This is by far the biggest trap of all, because areas of brokenness tend to be the raw nerves that we pay attention to in life. The mindset can become, “I do not want whatever happened to me to ever happen to our children.” Of course this comes from a great motivation, but it creates an overcompensating. We may have had a bad experience in sports growing up, so we push our kids to excel so they achieve higher than we did. We put a lot of energy into having our kids involved in a million activities and driving them to become the best in everything. What’s the motive? Is it really out of wanting the best or because of our own hurt? Its tough to discern this when you carry unresolved brokenness.
2. Parenting your children out of fear.
The enemy loves to use fear to motivate us as parents to fall into some dysfunctional patterns as parents. Here are some of the behaviors we can fall into:
- controlling parenting: where instead of equipping our children to grow and learn to make solid decisions on their own, we police every thing they do in the hopes of protecting them from making wrong decisions.
- helicopter parenting: this involves the constant monitoring and observing of every move your child makes, with no gradual building of trust and learning to release them.
- bubble-boy parenting: making decisions based more on protecting them from ever being hurt or disappointed. We fail to realize that we often learn the most from our mistakes and shortcomings.
3. Failing to see the struggles they inherited from you.
When our children are acting goofy, we often approach them as though we never had that problem in our own life. We become an authority presence to them as though we’ve never had those same difficult experiences ourselves. This creates a hypocritical environment that over time, children can see.
In addition, we forget that our children are direct inheritors of many of our traits. They carry our personality traits, bodily features and unfortunately, our sin issues too. Sometimes the best thing to do when you see your child operating in a way of thinking that is not of God, is to first recognize that issue in your own life first. This could be the first step in breaking the sin cycle that may be running through your family. You may be upset that your daughter is lying to you all the time, but was this a similar issue in your life growing up? Just because you grew out of it doesn’t mean that battle is not going to rise up in your child. Recognizing this helps us to come to our children strategically, not just with a lecture and anger.
4. Trying to be the perfect parent.
We have to learn this right away, but it still torments so many parents. How often do we try to be perfect in how we parent, giving no room for mistakes. Many people who carry brokenness try to resolve it by doing everything right in their parenting. This creates a deep level of stress in your life and it also keeps you from admitting when you’ve made a mistake or been off the mark in your parenting.
Is there a brokenness within that drives us to make our family look like we are great and successful? Are you trying so hard to be a model family worth following, but it torments you? Do we create images in our communication to impress people about our life, when really we have deep brokenness driving the whole journey?
Quite honestly, your weaknesses and struggles are often more effective towards encouraging others than all your appearances of “looking perfect.” It’s important that you release yourself from being a perfect parent and become a parent that is being perfected as you learn from your mistakes.
5. Doing stuff with them instead of just being with them.
Today’s parents are the busiest I have ever seen, and much of this is self-inflicted. We think that in order for our family to be great, we need to keep our children as busy as possible. So we book up our calendar with “stuff” to do with our kids, yet at the end of the day, have we actually been with them?
Sometimes the most valuable moments are the times our children get our full attention and our full heart; where we connect with them and build relationship. I had to learn this one right off the jump, where i quickly realized that the greatest gift I can give my children in relationship is to be present with them and engage their life.
6. Trying to be their friend.
Unresolved brokenness will teach us to act as a friend more than we do a parent. We do not want them to be angry with us. This can undermine the authority God has placed in our lives as parents, especially when we have to make tough decisions regarding discipline and steps our family will take.
It can also can bring confusion, where as our children grow, they do not come under authority figures in life very well.
7. Immersing your identity completely in being a parent.
How often do parents push down their own brokenness and immerse their identity completely into just being a parent? Only to find decades later when their kids have left the home, they have no idea who they are?
Many parents even put in more investment to their children than they do to their marriage. The subtle lie I see people give into says, “I will always be my child’s parent. I may not always be my spouse’s mate.” This already sets us up for an improper order in the home. The marriage always come first, before the children.
But we can often get lost in neglecting our marriage for the sake of parenting. We can also lose sight of our own identity while we get lost in the daily tasks of raising our kids.
It can be a very subtle temptation to lose ourselves in parenting our children, while not cultivating a healthy relationship ourselves with God, in who we are as His kids.
The greatest power I have found in parenting, is when I learn myself to be a love child of my Father in heaven. When I learn to live as a son before Him, my parenting skyrockets. Because my core identity is not a parent….I am a son. Out of that flows everything else.
I could list a bunch more, but we’ll start with these 7 . . .
Question: Which pattern do you see occurring the most? What would you add to this list?