3 Aug 2017

You are the best parents for your child(ren): it's alright to feel you missed it or blew it

This is a part of me very few know.

It's not because I hide it, but I think our organised, efficient, high-speed society has no place for it. Also, it's very occasional.

Well, here is one occasion.

I saw a friend post on Fb about a school his son is aspiring to get into. Suddenly it dawned on me that such a school would be a great fit for my son. But of course, it calls for good grades and a CV. Yes, I, the fish unaware of the water, forgot that. So I allowed myself to get all excited about the possibility, as my son was not keen on the school he would most likely get into by affiliation. Then I talked with the other parent, turned on my computer and looked at the desired school. Immediately, I felt a mix of guilt, sadness and anger fomenting.

This is the sort of system where the winner takes it all, and the winner is a parent who can see years down the road, has resources to send the children to enrichment, keeps track of all aspects of the child's development with sterling planning, or, the parent with a child who is highly self-motivated and capable. So I felt sad that my son will not get to be in an environment where his interests and abilities can be honed. I felt angry at myself for being so blur; "it is a simple flowchart Jenni!" I yell internally at myself. I feel guilty wondering if I have done my best for my son.

What's more, I felt this whole gamut of stuff five years ago with my first born. Now it's worse, coz it looks like i didn't learn anything! Don't get me started on ... "where's the other parent", for we all know the answer to that one. Thankfully, in my case, he deeply loves the children and is involved in their lives. Just not the school bit very much.

I would like for more parents to be able to flub about our trip ups, laugh over our foibles, cry together over our spilled milk. Why doesn't such a parenting club exist? I will call it, "We are humans after all, parents club".

So I drew in a deep breath, and I wrote this.

I believe, somewhere out there is another parent like me.

You want the best for your child but you wonder if you have given them the best. You love them to bits but you know that somewhere out there are things you wish you could give them, but they are forever beyond your reach. You want to provide and prepare them well for life, but you find that it's all a tad complicated. You want your child to thrive and excel but you also know you don't fully buy into the system or the values around you. You wrestle with a child who isn't 'standard issue', who has learning difficulties and temperamental challenges. 

Honestly, I think my comfort and hope will be slim and threadbare if not for this larger truth: my son is first and foremost, God's child. His very breath is a gift from heaven. The sovereign watchcare of God, the signs along the way that shows his present love, and the love between my son and I are more enduring and important. Missed opportunities, detours, delays, cannot upend God's desire and plan for us as long as we do our best, even if our best seems to fall short of the national standard.

In fact, the Spirit whispers, "your best is always love".

But "all parents love their children", I respond.

{Important sidenote: when the Spirit whispers, don't talk back. Listen some more.}

[me sitting and waiting....then a memory comes back]

I search for one of the first parenting books I read, How To Really Love Your Child, and find this:

"The foundation of a solid relationship with a child is unconditional love. Only this can assure a child's growth to full potential. Only this foundation of unconditional love can assure that such problems as feelings of resentment, being unloved, guilt, fear, insecurity don't become significant problems." 

"Jesus looked at the young man and loved him.." ~ Mark 10v21

This was no surface, superficial, fluff. This young man had come respectfully with a great question, a serious desire. Jesus saw that he was not ready for the answer. Yet Jesus loved him, and loved him enough to tell him what he needed.

This is love. It really sees the person, beyond the 'presentation', whether that is potential or problems.
This is love. It really believes the person is far more that what is presently clear.
This is love. It really feels and reaches out with truth to free the person from his burdens.

In a moment of anxiety like the one I had, my son became a statistic.

The Holy Spirit is comforting me and reminding me that I have loved and that is what counts. In the years that I have kept on choosing to see him for who he is at each milestone, and helping him take the next steps that he needs (not the system wants him to) so that he is growing, I realise is love.

Loving my son is about me accepting my child where he is, and yet knowing he needs to keep going and growing, all the while, safe in his Heavenly Father's love, experienced through my unconditional love for him.

The fluster and bluster is brief and I am located back in a place of peace and conviction, and looking forward to see him back from school!

So, welcome to the Real Parents Love Unconditionally Club and share the Love!

this wonderful book!


  1. God always comes through. And He can surely be trusted. That is MY consolation anyway. Of course, this is no excuse to fail to plan or be discerning. But there is a rest in knowing that He knows our weaknesses and He covers the gaps for us.

  2. I often felt that I have shortchanged my son who's diagnosed to have learning issues. Our lives as "nomads" has brought into his young life lots of changes and adjustments. One day as we talked it over and I apologised to him for all the disruptions to his education, he said, "Don't feel bad. I wouldn't have exchanged the experiences my life (as a TCK) for anything else." Missed oppprtunities? From whose perspective? Raise up your child to be resilient and mature. In the final analysis, what counts is character - not good grades or a prestigious school.

    1. I think all parents have a measure of this, but it seems to happen even more for missionaries and ministry folks. Thanks for sharing so honestly. Indeed, how do we decide or measure opportunities?


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