Casting Light

What do parents do? Why are people so fascinated and confused about what we need to be and do and provide as parents? I read an article this morning that declared parents had a very important role in shaping morality. Elsewhere I read that parents protect children and teens from danger. Yet another article stated that parents are ever present, and that’s the core of what they do.

I think parents do so much more than teach morality, protect, and be present. If it were that simple, why would we read so many parenting articles?

To see the importance of what parents provide, one only needs to look at the darkness people carry when parents fail them. The scars of unhealthy childhood can lead to relationship problems, addiction, even mental illness. A parent’s job is casting light into the life a growing child, rather than darkness.

Parents instill children with a sense of how much (or how little) they matter. When parents are unable to show kids that they matter, those kids grow into adults who struggle with meaninglessness, powerlessness, and feelings of being undeserving.

Parents mirror back to children silent messages about whether the child is “enough.” Good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Strong enough. When parents are unable to show kids that they are enough, children grow into adults who feel like no achievement is sufficient and no success makes them worthwhile.

Parents show children what it is to be in relationship with others. As the first, closest relationships for children, parents carve the template. In this role, parents can show that love is gentle and kind, or that love is unpredictable, hurtful, or dangerous.

Parents shape skill sets for life. The work of parenting produces a ready adult, one who is prepared for independent life on his own. When parents are unable to support the growth of a skill set, children grow into uncertain adults who struggle with problem solving and lack courage to figure things out on their own.

These may seem like daunting responsibilities. But being a good parent doesn’t require perfection.

·      Be loving.

·      Be patient.

·      Tune in.

·      Give freely.

·      Keep the end goal (a healthy adult) in mind.

Posted on March 20, 2017 .