Does My Child’s Faith Depend on Me?

One of the biggest lies I confronted while raising our children was:

“My child’s future and faith all depends on me.”
Perhaps I felt this pressure because as a wife and mom in the ministry, I knew their were eyes on me, especially as I parented!  And, to be honest, I just wanted to be the best mom ever for my kids!
This lie fleshed itself out in many ways.  When they were angry, selfish, or mean towards their sibling, it felt as if it was my fault.  And, certainly, I thought, their future spouses would suffer from these character flaws.  If their schoolwork was not up to par, I could imagine them working at McDonalds for their entire life.  If their attitude with me was cheeky, I envisioned that ultimately they would disregard God as their precious One to love and obey.
Even though I might have said to myself and others, “Oh no, I don’t really believe that lie,” when my kids acted selfishly, unkindly in anger, or any behavior that seemed unacceptable, it would throw me into an introspective whirlwind.  In general, if they made poor choices then, emotionally, the buck quietly stopped with me.  I mean, I am their mom after all!
I eventually came to embrace that though I wanted to be a great mom and truly gave my whole heart to my kids, they indeed are little human creatures who are fallible and self-centered sinners.  And so am I! 
I eventually came to appreciate that even our Father God faced such challenges.   With His little troop of humans—the Israelites—over and over again He faced their failure to obey Him, love Him, and walk with Him even though He was the PERFECT DAD!
Finally, I had to accept that even though I gave my very best to each of them, my children had to stand on their own two feet for their faith and their future.  My role as their mom was to come alongside and help them see that there were best paths to choose, responses that were godly, and ways that were loving and kind.  I did discipline my children and there was a price to pay for disobedience.  But over time, I became softer in that I would pick my battles carefully and pray more.
Time has passed.  Our eldest grandson just turned fifteen.  Our eldest child is now forty!
In fact, now that all of our children are married and have children of their own, my perspective has been enlarged. When it comes to my children’s relationships with their spouses today, of course, they have their weaknesses.  And shocker of all shockers, their spouses have weaknesses too!  But it is not as I had conjectured. The disasters I had presumed when they were six-years-old have never materialized! 
None of my children work at fast food counters.  But, even though they are gainfully employed, I still find cause to be concerned about their income, expenditures, and needs.  So, I pray!
All of our children walk with God.  They love Him and are growing in Him.  But they do so differently from each other and differently than their parents!  I am privileged to pray for them!
If I could return to my twenties, I would sit down and have a chat with myself.  I would say, “Dana, do your best to be a godly mom.  But don’t be consumed with it and by it.  Don’t judge yourself by your children’s mistakes.  Help them to learn from their mistakes.  And, make sure you learn from yours!”
Be present—enjoy them!  Be real—let them see your need for Jesus as you read them Bible stories.  Be realistic—don’t project into the future; simply train them in the way they should go!
“…For when they are old they will not depart from it!” (Prov. 22:6)

Grandma “D” and Tom have been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married 43 years.  They are blessed with three married children and seven grandchildren.  In 2017 Tom and Dana will rejoin and embed with the U.S. Collegiate Mission.  They are excited to have opportunity to interact with so many staff of such high caliber! 


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