“There Are No Bad Children; Only Bad Parents”
A good biblical theology tells us that there are no good children, only sinful ones. But somehow, somehow, by some miracle of theological pretension, many conclude that by the application of the proper parenting techniques, Biblical parenting techniques, we are told, these no good, sinful children will emerge as lovely specimens of godliness, gems of their parent’s faithfulness.
Which leaves parents who are as faithful as they know how whose little Johnny or Janey grows up not nice with only one possible conclusion: we were bad parents. And so, they are back to the slogan in the title, with the added guilt and shame attached to the fact that their parenting just must not have been ‘biblical’. So, the Christian version is something like this: “There are no good children, only sinful parents.”
No, we modify it still: “There are no good children, only parents who fail miserably to be the kind of parents that God would have them be.” Try living with that self-assessment for a day or two. That is what the logic of ‘Biblical technique = godly children’ leaves us with.
Call me negative if you will, but though it is clear that there are some parents who do a better job than others (I in no way want to suggest that we ought not try to be the best parents we can) yet I am convinced that each of us inject just enough parental screwiness into our parenting that the ONLY way ANY of them come out the other end as remotely godly, well adjusted kids is the grace of God.
My book on parenting, due out in, oh, well, maybe I should write it first, will be titled something like this: “Eight Ways to Totally Screw up Your Kids and How God’s Grace Can Fix the Mess“.
I clearly DON’T have parenting figured out.
I find that THERE IS ENCOURAGEMENT then, in an unlikely source, for those of us who do our best as parents and can’t therefore figure out why our children subsequently make bad choices. A psychiatrist in the NY Times pondering...