By Cindy Koch –
Have you ever pondered the dreadful things you pass on to your children? Maybe it was the shockingly inappropriate song on the naive lips of your three year old. Or possibly you recognized one of your quirky nervous habits in your happy-go-lucky child. Do you ever think you are not doing enough for your kids, and they are somehow missing out because of you? There is a certain fear that comes with parenting: messing up their life.
Last week I sat at my kitchen table, sharing a cup of coffee with a good friend, enjoying a typical play date. We had short conversations about this and that, in between the earnest interruptions of our combined 8 children. The little ones toddled up and asked for a snack, the middle ones ran up to tattle on one another, and the older ones stopped by to comment on our adult conversation. But, after about 30 minutes of controlled chaos, my dear friend reached a breaking point. Panic flashed through her usually calm and happy expression. I noticed a wave of tears swelling just behind her eyes. She took a deep breath and whispered, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a terrible mom and my kids are all going to need therapy.”
Now, there is something you must understand about my friend. She is not a terrible mom. She cares very deeply about the well-being of her children. Like any dedicated mother, she sacrifices big parts of her life to provide a safe, loving home for these little people. My friend has taught me how to smile beautifully even when the world is crashing down, she has encouraged me through times of my own doubt and despair.
But I understand her fear. I have actually uttered those exact same words from my own terrified lips, “My kids will need therapy.” I have worried about the uncertain future of the little ones placed under my care. If it is up to me and my dark heart, if it depends on my loving kindness and wisdom, my children are certainly doomed.
So, as any good friend would do, I looked her straight into her teary eyes and told her the truth.
“You are absolutely right; your kids will need therapy.”
Our children, as cute as they may be, are awful sinners. We who parent these little deviants, are more experienced awful sinners. The doubt and shame we feel in our relationship with one another is a very true reality of the world in which we live. It is much less than good, we are much less than perfect parents, and the little ones are much less than innocent. We all need therapy. Our kids aren’t alright. We are all in big trouble.
Yes, my friend, your kids will need therapy because they will mess up horribly, and they will blame you for it. Just prepare for that, now! But you have given your babies something amazing. They know where to find forgiveness, and they certainly need it. You brought them into a community that loves them. Kicking and screaming, they were killed in their baptism. Unlike anything else you could do for them, they were raised with Christ in a new life. So even as deviant and disturbed as your children may be, they will remember who they really are: loved and forgiven by you and their God.