It has at times occurred to me that parents are placed in a position of some difficulty. By the very nature of things, there is some tension (almost conflict) in our duties. Or at least we will feel this way if we have a tender heart before God.
Why do I say this? We are instructed by God to teach His ways to our children. We are supposed to teach them all of His ways, even. And this places us in a position of difficulty. Why? Because we all know that we ourselves do not keep those ways so perfectly well at times. Thus, we will at times be called upon to teach and instruct our children in things that we are not very good about ourselves. We will have to correct their outbursts of anger, knowing that we ourselves lose our temper too often. We will catch them being less than perfectly honest and feel condemned ourselves for the times that we have kept back part of the truth or allowed it to be misrepresented in a slightly misleading way. We will want to scold them for not being more diligent in their chores when we know ourselves that we have a tendency to be lazy at times also.
Something tells me that you understand this dilemma. We all do, don’t we? As I said, it is part of the nature of parenting.
So what can we do about it? Is it really a conflict of duties? Are we simply consigned to be hypocrites in this regard? Or should we just not teach these things to our children because of our own failings? Here are some brief thoughts about it:
1. The best solution is to be more careful to follow God’s ways ourselves. There is no avoiding this conclusion, and it really becomes the most important thing in the whole discussion quite plainly.
What does it reveal, by the way, that we are so much more ready to dwell on the faults of our children than on our own faults in the same areas?
2. Consider our spirits when it does come time to talk with our children about matters that we ourselves are not exactly masters of. It behooves us to have gentleness and patience, doesn’t it?
What if it is not an area of weakness for us, but of strength? Are we then much more entitled to rebuke strongly and be harsh?
3. Be ready to confess our wrongs when necessary, even to our children or others under our care. When we have done wrong, it is nearly impossible to lead well in the things of God when we have sinned and will not deal with that fact in the right way. Confession and repentance is the only right way forward. That may have to be done even towards our children.
Will this lower the esteem that they should have for us? Did it lower the esteem Jesus had with His disciples when He took the role of a servant and washed their feet? David was accused by his wife of lowering himself when he danced before the Lord in the sight of the people, but this was not so. We esteem the Lord all the more for His humility, and David, too, is esteemed more highly by us for his humility before the Lord.