A few years ago I read a book by John Eldredge entitled “Wild at Heart“. It deeply moved me in a way that I still can’t completely relay today. In fact, it was very instrumental in my life as a source of healing that has perpetuated into how I view parenting on a daily basis. Most of the book posits the question that men face most in their life: Do I have what it takes?
This deep-seeded question, in it’s initial interposition of self-reflection, takes me back to my childhood and some really painful experiences. Many of those experiences were interactions with my parents and turned out to be pivotal memories that I had played and replayed whenever I would make a decision. The truth was that I hadn’t dealt with the wounds of my past. It wasn’t always what my father or mother said or did, but it was how I interpreted them. My perception of those memories was just as important as the reality of them.
Knowing this and having my own children, I now reposition myself in my father’s place. I swore I would never make the same mistakes my parents did. It’s something that I have heard countless people say. Executing that mantra is more difficult because I share their DNA. Jumping into the scientific at this point isn’t useful, but I can say this: Unless I make a conscious and purposeful effort to change I cannot. Unless I realize the impact of my words and actions on my children each day I cannot loose myself from the wounds of past or the curse to repeat them.
I’m not going to be a perfect parent. God was the perfect parent that gave a perfect world and yet Adam and Eve strayed from innocence. So I try not to be too hard on myself. However, the burden of parenting demands a best effort. I’ve decided I have what it takes. I’ve dealt with the wounds of my past and I’ve forgiven myself and family for the intentional or unintentional hurt caused.
One last piece of advice for parents is to ask your children at pivotal times or after stressful moments in your relationship if you have wounded them. It’s really tough to ask and, if you dig deep and look full in the moment, you would find it is monumentally more difficult to listen and hear what they have to say. It can really hurt, but if it’s left unchecked they can take it with them wherever they go and whatever they do. Ask the question and take the answer to heart. Let them know they have what it takes to ride the waves of life and speak life in their sponge-like souls when it’s most difficult.