It’s always hard as a parent to see your children struggling. You want to remove them from their stressful moments or live those moments for them, to save them pain.
And it doesn’t get easier when they get older and are struggling with different things. How do you stand back as a parent and let your child grow without a little pain or struggle or strife?
The simple answer is of course you can’t. You only have to hope that you’ve raised them with the skills that will equip them to navigate life’s difficult paths.
When my children were younger I could heal their struggles or woes with a kiss or a cuddle or something to distract their minds. But what do you do when Band-Aids and ice pops don’t work any more? When they’ve outgrown them?
The hard answer is you take a step back, you take your hands off a little, you try to find the balance between respecting their privacy and over parenting them.
But, as I know from experience it’s a veritable minefield and it’s all too easy to strike the wrong note and get it wrong.
This morning I opened my mouth and the wrong voice came out.
What I originally meant as encouraging came out harsh and judgemental and unfeeling and uncaring.
I couldn’t bite the words back before they were uttered, much though I wish I could. All I could think of were the times I’d needed encouragement as a child and it was not forthcoming.
Of course I apologised immediately but what do you do when you know you’ve slipped up and you can’t correct it?
To be honest once you’ve apologised and sought reconciliation there is not much you can do. You have to forgive yourself and try to remember the times you did not slip up, the times you said the right word in the right season. The times you were there to extend the hug, the kiss, the Band-Aids, the encouragement.
But it’s never easy. Why is it we can extend forgiveness to others but find it so hard to forgive ourselves? I’ll never know for sure. I think it’s because we expect so much more from ourselves. We beat ourselves up when we get it wrong. I know there are many nights I’ve wept for the times I’ve got it wrong.
One of the greatest joys in my life are my children and the relationship I have with each of them. I would not trade that for anything.
In times like this and I don’t mean this as an excuse or get out clause, we need to extend ourselves some grace, and some compassion. I’ve never found that easy.
We are human. We are imperfect and we will always make mistakes.
We can only wait for the lull in our kids difficulties, raise them up in prayer and hope against hope we can help them next time they struggle.
Till next time.