Ideas / Parenting / Theology / January 17, 2012

Vehicle, Obstacle, or Passenger?

It’s hard being a parent. It’s hard raising little sinners up to be godly, contributing members of society. Children make it hard by being, well, themselves.
But you know what’s harder than raising little sinners? Being a sinner who gets to raise little sinners. Parents are selfish, and this selfishness exhibits itself most clearly in our parenting.
We treat out children as vehicles to happiness. They are required to carry us to the promised land of reputation or vicarious success. The bear the weight of our bulging, saggy, baggy egos on their little shoulders as we jerk the steering wheel this way and that toward good grades, little league all-star games, and proper table manners. They strain under the burden of our crushing expectations as we mash the gas pedal to speed up their progress toward making us look like genius parents in the eyes of people whose praise we lust after and who we can’t really stand.
And at some point our kids break down. It might be a quiet sputtering to a halt or it might be a glorious, tire blowing, whirling spinout. But it is certain to happen. Since they are resilient it will likely end up happening multiple times as they keep trying again and again.
And what is a vehicle that stops working? An obstacle. And that is what our children become upon our realization that they can’t carry us to the promised land of parental bliss. Then our resentment builds. We might be aggressive with words or passive with our affection, but one way or another that obstacle child comes to know that dad or mom wishes she would just get out of the way. A broken down vehicle is, at best, a nuisance after all.
But children are neither vehicles nor obstacles. If anything, they are passengers. We are to carry them through the changes, travails, and challenges of childhood then youth until they are capable of traveling on their own. And then we accompany them and show them the way. And at some point, down the road, they begin to help us. We are to carry their burdens until we can teach them to carry it as a man or woman ought.
I find myself tempted to put the burden of my happiness on the shoulders of my children every day, and I know this is the case by how often I react to their failures and sins as if they have stopped me from achieving happiness. My aim needs to be to help them learn where real happiness lies by carrying them there. That is, I must model the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus and take my children to Him as the source of happiness.

photo credit: Felix63 via photopin cc




23 Comments

Jan 18, 2012

Lovely post. Thank you.


Jan 18, 2012

Thank-you :) An important reminder for me today.


Jan 18, 2012

THIS. THIS. Is great & it is truth. Thank you!


Jan 18, 2012

When I commented I’d like some blog posts on parenting, this is exactly the kind of post I was thinking about. Now, If I can just be patient with my kid who asked me for juice 12 times while I wrote this comment. Yikes.


Jan 18, 2012

Our time is short; gotta love ‘em well, while we can. Thank you for this perspective! ~Pat


    Jan 18, 2012

    The days are long and the years are short….Love them well! Yes!


    Jan 18, 2012

    Yes,the days are long and the years are short…my Aunt says that and as my children have grown I have experienced how true it is. Great post. I have, unfortunately, used my children as both vehicles and obstacles. We are changing but that doesn’t help our older kids. We are praying for God to wipe away the hurt so that they can learn to trust Him and lean on Him. Thanks for a clear analogy for understanding.


Jan 18, 2012

Thank you Barnabas for being transparent and putting into words what I’ve been dealing with lately. I lie in bed alongside my husband in tears as I read this. Your post is honestly an answer to a prayer I prayed this morning. A prayer for clarity and wisdom. So thankful for our Father’s faithfulness.


Jan 18, 2012

Thank you for your insightful and soul-searching thoughts concerning Christian parenthood. May the Lord bless you in your parenting.


Jan 18, 2012

Thank you!


Jan 18, 2012

Fulfill my joy by being…
Do all things…so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ

As a parent of 6 I strive to pour myself out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of my children’s progress and joy faith.

Because my joy and happiness was solely in the Lord, when I became a parent I became hard pressed between Christ and my children. So in a sense I have pierced my ear to the doorpost of my children’s progress and joy of faith in the Lord.

Matt


    Jan 18, 2012

    My #1 mom verse is Col 1:28,29, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone (we have 6 too!) with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”


Jan 18, 2012

This comment has been removed by the author.


Jan 18, 2012

AMEN! This is a gem of a post and I will reread it often and share it.


Jan 18, 2012

Wonderful thank you for sharing. I will pass this along as it will encourage many. Please visit us at http://www.d6reformation.org or d6reformation.WordPress.com. God bless you!


Jan 18, 2012

Gosh, you hit it right on the nose.. thank you so much for sharing! It’s a great reminder for me.. God bless!


Jan 18, 2012

I appreciate the kind words, all. It’s encouraging to know that this is a common struggle for parents.


Jan 18, 2012

I love your heart Barnabas. You have grown up! The last time I remember seeing you was as a wee little one!


Jan 18, 2012

Is the writer somehow suggesting that he is not a “sinner” as he puts it?
My bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”
As a Christian, I thank my God daily for forgivness of recent sins…. Why? because I am a sinner!
They that are not sick, have no need of a physician….


    Jan 18, 2012

    Mike,

    I’m not sure where you got the impression that I (writer) was suggesting I’m not a sinner. I quite clearly include myself in the camp of sinners raising sinners as well as the camp of selfish parents. I have certainly sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and by making my own kids vehicles or obstacles I continue to do so even as I try not to.


Jan 18, 2012

I love this illustration, and I love my passengers – more and more with each endless day of obstacles (opportunities?) they present! What a joy to carry these little ones and to enjoy the conversations on the ride of life.


Jan 18, 2012

Children are a blessing from the Lord. As Psalm 127:3 states, our children are our heritage and our reward from Him. As Barnabas alluded to, we are simply stewards of our children while they are with us. The days go by so fast and we have them under our daily care for such a short time. We should do our best then to fill those days with love, laughter, and an unending prayer that they will grow up to fulfill the image and the destiny that God has ordained for them. We should refrain from trying to live or accomplish our dreams through them. They belong to God and so God’s dreams for our children must become our dreams for our children. As we carry them, let us make sure that we are running wholeheartedly into the arms of Jesus.


Jan 22, 2012

It’s an interesting read. You know, with one special needs baby of 6 months and one normal needs 2 years, I often see my kids as obstacles to my happiness, rather than vehicles to my happiness. At this age in their young lives, we aren’t at the point where we are pushing them in school and so forth. We are irritated that we can’t sleep, can’t eat in peace, can’t go to the store without 25 lbs of diapers, food, and strollers. Teaching them about Jesus has become a complete afterthought, we are just trying to survive. Selfish? I never thought of myself as selfish before I had kids, now it’s so present, it’s sickening. Impatient? I am a case-study in impatience. Lord help me, some days I wonder if I’m even a Christian.



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