• Isn’t it interesting that by the time some parents are tossing out parenting books, others are deciding to write them? Is it because the latter group has kids who have “turned out?”

    Have you ever heard someone respond to the interview question, “What is your greatest achievement?” by answering, “My children.” I experience distaste when we talk about raising children with words like, “achievement.” Keeping a child alive until they are 18 is certainly an achievement, I grant you, perhaps even countless significant achievements. But child rearing, in all its complexity and difficulties and joy, is certainly more than an achievement. Isn’t it a relationship? Or rather, several stories that unfold?

    A recent thought of mine is that our focus in childrearing is on outcomes. How our kids “turn out” seems pretty important. It determines if parents are esteemed in a community or gossiped about. It determines if parents feel pride or shame. Wouldn’t it be freeing to let go of the potential outcome of our children (and our resulting image) and instead walk with them on our respective paths of redemption?

    I am part of a culture promoting the belief that children come into this world as innocent doves and parents/culture screw them up. This is a set up, I think, for those of us who are anxious to “parent well.” We realize that we are blowing it with our kids, and there is just no way around that. (I have said of my daughter, “She’s going to be diagnosable by the time she’s five!”)

    The freeing truth is that our world is fallen. This means children are impacted by sin the moment they are conceived. Something in their very DNA is broken (it’s amazing, and clearly created by God, but broken nonetheless). Once kids make their way through the birth canal, they enter relationships with parents and others whose very DNA is also broken. The chance of anyone turning out is a moot point really. But I still find it difficult to escape the paradigm that my parenting determines my kids’ futures.

    The paradigm I think I want is more about the relationship, learning how to love well – despite what the future brings. I’m looking for a parenting style that doesn’t use my child as a litmus test of whether she or I was good enough to produce a good outcome. I want to live by faith that even though neither of us will ever be good enough, we can nevertheless anticipate that Christ will redeem all our sins in creative and awesome ways.