My Paranoid Princess,
I have often seen it in your eyes, even if you haven’t said it. The doubt that crosses your expression when I mention how I want to hike the Appalachian Trail with my children when they are old enough. The way you put up a strained smile when a girlfriend turns to you after discussing her newborn. You have serious doubts about your ability to be a good mother. As a service to you, I would like to dispel the fears you have:
You are going to be a terrible parent.
At times. You will have moments of breathtakingly inept parenting. At least once, you will say something to each of your future children that will make them cry. It is highly likely that you will be the topic of a long conversation (or conversations) with a therapist when they move out. Your future children-in-law will have to forgive you for messing up their husbands and wives multiple times throughout their lives.
Wait, I said I was going to DISPEL the fears, right? So why did I just confirm all of the things you fear most?
Because the fear of being a bad parent is pointless. There are no good parents, only varying degrees of bad ones.
I understand that our Churchianity has widely taught so as to imply that, if there is a judgement day, all men will be judged by their church attendance and all women will be judged by their performance as wives and mothers. Obviously, if you aren’t a good mother, you can’t be a good Christian, woman, human being, and definitely deserve some good ol’ fashioned Gehenna because you didn’t breastfeed more children than you have fingers, you failure-of-two-X-chromosomes you.
But there are NO perfect parents. Humans are all imperfect this side of glory. Even the (arguably) most faithful person in the Bible who isn’t a person of the Godhead, Mary, managed to leave her child behind on vacation. Even if someone does everything right as a parent, children might misinterpret a righteous action and still be scarred and wounded by it. All parents will leave their children with issues to work through, relying on God to heal the wounds that result from sins of commission and omission. It’s the gospel, once again: God covers our sins and imperfections even though we don’t deserve it.
So, regardless of how empathetic, knowledgeable, prepared, disorganized, or hypocritical of a parent you are, your child will move out one day thoroughly messed up because of you. It’s OK. Ultimately, it’s not your child, it’s God the Father’s, and he has given it to you to steward for eighteen-ish years (plus nine-ish months if you are a female and not adopting). While you aren’t, he IS a perfect parent who loves his children and works through (not in spite of) our mistakes, in parenting just as in every other part of life. There is no pressure to be the perfect parent in the economy of mercy. Simply rely on God in everything, as every Christ-follower must, and parenting will work itself out.
So, rebuke that fear. It isn’t from God. He knows you aren’t perfect, and when he entrusts you with a small pagan child to rear (they all start off pagans), he will be faithful to complete the work he starts.
Does that give you some hope? It should: it isn’t up to you to not screw your kids up. They will wind up screwed up in some way because they will be sinful people in a fallen world. Some of it will be because of you.
As for me, I choose to have a PLAN to mess up my kids. Using advanced psychological programming techniques, leaving overly complicated treasure maps to where I buried a box a mile deep in the woods containing the password to unlock the computer so they can get online or watch their shows (forcing them to get several hours of fresh air first), strictly enforced draconian rules that make no immediate sense like “no drinking from red cups or you will be spending the next four hours scrubbing grout” so they have a subconscious aversion to beer pong when they get older, I choose to ENJOY screwing up my kids. Forget about a “college fund”. Their eighteenth birthday gift will be access to their “therapy fund” that I started earlier this year to ensure it is adequate of having to grow up with me.
Fully aware of how much therapy HE needs,
A Christian Guy