“Parenting isn’t supposed to hurt like this!”
“I did what I was supposed to do – what went wrong?!”
Have you ever felt like that? Confused as to what the hell happened to your adorable toddler?!
The truth is parenting is soooo hard! I mean it’s totally wonderful! It’s the best, most awesome thing EVER – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful and messy and exhausting too. It’s okay (maybe even critical!) to admit to yourself that, sometimes it just HURTS!
And this beautiful, amazing and devastatingly difficult task might be made even more challenging in the age of social media. Why? I mean there are more resources at our disposal. More books and tips and blogs and more everything! So why would it possibly be more difficult when there’s so much advice??
Because it’s so very easy to “compare.”
According to Instagram all the “other” moms have time to create cute, handmade plates and napkins for their adorable, never-had-a-tantrum toddlers to eat organic, freshly made veggies from – while in my house getting laundry done and out of the washer – into the dryer before it starts smelling seems like an epic accomplishment.
And once the children are older? Forgeddaboutit! We don’t want the world to know that our tweens shout things like, “I hate you!” and “I can’t wait to move out!” from the top of the stairs. Or that our teens are battling eating disorders or other harmful behaviors. Truthfully – it’s often hard to even admit to ourselves that this is happening.
Especially when we believed that we had the Secret Formula down pat. That if we do certain things, raise children by specific rules, then we will get a guaranteed result.
It’s very easy to believe when we look at seemingly “perfect” families where the parents say calmly and sweetly (or sometimes a bit condescendingly) Here’s the recipe: Put in love, discipline, etc and your child will also be perfect… like mine is. For Sure. Period. No doubt. No exceptions. Easy!
So if it doesn’t work right –
YOU DID IT WRONG.
And God is pointing it out…
But that’s sloppy theology: to think that ALL suffering is good for us, or that it’s a result of sin or disobedience or failure. And yes, all suffering can be used for good, over time, after mourning and healing, by God’s graciousness.
But sometimes it’s just plain loss, not because you needed to grow, not because life or God or anything is teaching you any kind of lesson. It just IS.
So what do we do when it doesn’t ‘work right.’ When the child/teen/young adult is struggling? It’s very, very easy to feel like a failure. We don’t need outsiders to judge us because – we can be first in line to judge ourselves. FAILED.
We often go info hiding
when we need support the most
because we are shamed.
This is a tragedy.
I know, I KNOW, some of you have difficult situations. Children with emotional issues, complications of abuse, physical challenges, even mental health issues. I know there are cutting addictions and OCD and depression and rebellion that you deal with in this child that you love so very dearly.
We want to be good parents, and that means “getting it right.” We want our children to grow up strong and loving and faithful and to have the best life has to offer – and we TRY. But we all fall short at times. And in those times we have to get up, do what we can to make amends, change the behavior and model grace. The same things we hope to instill in our children.
Even under the best of circumstances, sometimes, no matter what we do, there can be a season of disappointment. A time when things aren’t falling into place like we wanted them to or believed they would.
These times are heart shattering.
Please don’t add to the pain by
falling into a trap of shame.
I’d love to offer you a formula for success! And, of course there are things we can do to make situations better or worse! (So grab a book, find a worthy mentor and do those things!)
In the meantime – hold on to hope. Every situation has the possibility of redemption! No matter how dark it is – there is an opportunity to learn, to overcome, to grow, to help others.
I can’t promise things will work out exactly like you have planned. I can’t give you a timetable. I can only tell you – you are not alone. There are lots of silent people in this battle. Don’t give up. Shame is never the right outcome.
My heart breaks that you are going through such a difficult time. I am praying for you – I’m believing for the best outcomes. My heart is holding you close and lifting you up and believing there are better days ahead. You – the mom struggling, the dad confused – you are a hero – simply because you are still in the fight.
And for those of you who have “storybook” families and no idea what I’m talking about… I am so very happy for you! Now, please don’t stand on the mountain and shout advice to the ones struggling. It is my hope you get whiplash from hitting your knees so quickly with a heart full of gratitude. Then my prayer is that you are willing to get down into the mud and the murk and the pain and help someone who is having a tough time. Without judgment – and with lots of grace. The grace we ALL need. Together, we can do this thing.