I know it’s an odd thing for someone who is not a parent to write about parenting. But don’t you think it would be interesting to talk to grown children - especially those who are not yet parents - about the way they were parented, and the impact they’ve felt it’s had on them? Good, bad and ugly.
While I’m not a parent, I’ve been thinking about the way that I was parented lately. Our home wasn’t perfect. Their marriage wasn’t perfect. I’m sure the way they parented wasn’t perfect, but in thinking about how I was parented, I feel incredibly grateful for it.
Here are some reasons why:
I was given the space to be who I was. There wasn’t pressure to be something or someone because that’s what my parents wanted. If that pressure existed, it was from me (the joys of our personalities sometimes, huh?). I was allowed to become… at my own pace, in my own way, with their guidance - not their micro-managing. This "becoming" thing wasn’t always beautiful, and I was corrected when I needed to be. While it was Christ that gave me the freedom to be who I am in Him, the way my parents parented was a help, not a hindrance, and I’m grateful for that as an adult.
I had the freedom to fail. I, like everyone else, didn’t always get it right. The right grade, the right boyfriend, the right friends, the right attitude, the right job, the right schedule… you get the idea. I wasn’t hassled for this. Again, corrected when needed (it was no free-for-all in our home), but I was given the space to fail and the support I needed to get back up without having to hear “I told you so…”
I was called out. My parents were not afraid to have hard conversations. I was given the space to be who I was, I was given the freedom to fail, but my parents were active in guiding me in life. If something needed to be said, it was. It was said in love (most times lol), but it was definitely said, and it was called what it was. My parents were not passive in their parenting.
They showed up. *The basketball team: “Who’s the woman dancing to our intro song in the bleachers?” *Me: “Oh, that’s my mom.” (True story by the way). My parents showed up for us. They were present. Book fairs, sporting events, school ceremonies…not once did I look for them and they weren’t there. This matters, parents. This matters a lot.
They weren’t afraid to show their imperfection. This one probably had the most impact. They weren’t afraid of us knowing they argue and, if we did hear the argument, we also often saw the apology. They didn’t hide the areas they fell short in, the areas God was still working out in them. They weren’t afraid to show they had feelings. They were humble enough to apologize to us when necessary. There was no mask on our family.
We knew we mattered, but we also knew we weren’t the center of their universe. There is this weird thing I’m seeing today where kids are either completely dismissed by their parents, or they’re made the single-most important priority at the expense of everything else. There was balance in our household. We were important, we mattered, but the sun did not rise each morning so we could stand in the spotlight. This showed me I was valued, but it also instilled humility.
Jesus was the cornerstone. Without question, the most important thing my parents did was love Jesus. Watching them have a relationship with the Lord, have things worked out in their own hearts by Him, and serve… this changed everything for me. My relationship with Jesus is my own, but watching my parents live it out surely propelled me toward Him.
There were imperfections weaved into all of this. I am not painting my childhood home as perfect. There was brokenness in my relationships with my parents at times, there were arguments, and seasons where everything I’ve listed above was completely challenged.
But, overall, when I look at how I was parented, and I look at who I am today as an adult, and I look at the relationships I have with my parents and siblings… I know it’s all intertwined. We’re a team in this life. Yes, I am who I am because of Jesus, but He surely used my parents in a mighty way.
I may not be a parent, but I was parented, and I can assure you that the way children are parented matters.