“We can’t take our kids where we’ve never been.”
Tara Hutton spoke these words last week and boy did they do a number on my heart. Like a pair of hands squeezing the life out of me but really...it was squeezing life INTO me.
Read on to see just how much I needed to hear this message. It may just be a message you need to hear, also.
In fact, so many of the words she said in last week’s Know Better, Do Better Series, felt hyper-convicting to me. Although her emphasis in her podcast, Mama’s Well, is on foster and adoptive parents, all parents will benefit from the tools and resources she offers. Afterall, these little people behind our smartphones (ha ha) are the future adults inheriting this broken but beautiful earth. Don’t we want them to DO better and BE better than us?
If yes, then shouldn’t we be asking, “Where is my parenting taking my children?” Let’s face it, we are taking them somewhere whether we are intentional about it or not.
Who remembers the infamous anti-drug commercial of the dad hovering over his son’s bed holding a joint asking him, “Who taught you how to do this stuff?” The kid refuses to answer but after multiple inquiries the commercial jumps to the climactic and oft-repeated message of the late 80s-- “YOU, alright! I learned it from watching you!” A haunting narrator jumps in with the message--“Parents who use drugs have kids that use drugs.”
The dad in the commercial failed to realize that his actions spoke louder than his words. He had “taken his son someplace” and didn’t even know it. Or maybe he did know--but didn’t want to deal with it.
I get it. Just a few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my almost 17 year-old son about resisting the temptation to drink alcohol with his peers. We are in the throes of teenage parenting, offering counsel and consequences while walking the delicate balance of keeping the communication lines open. Here I was, lecturing him about the silliness of feeling like alcohol is needed to have fun all while sipping my glass of red wine. The same glass I hold most evenings. I could feel the hypocrisy coursing through my veins and in that moment I asked him-- “Jack--have I given you the idea that alcohol is a big part of my life?” Of course, he answered “no.” But it wasn’t a fair question. I knew in that moment what I had to do.
I’m not saying I will never drink alcohol again, but like I stated before--I can’t take my son where I haven’t been and in this season, I want to set an example that alcohol need not be even close to important in our lives. It is a privilege and a disciplined delight to be able to enjoy a glass or two of wine but if it’s become more than that in my life--then it must go. So hellloooo herbal teas and seltzers. Pray for me, people.
What about you, friend? Is there an area in your life that you need to work through so that you can escort your children to a better future? Let’s not settle for a mindset that goes, “Wellll, that’s just the way it is……” Instead, let’s believe that we were called to go deeper and do better for our children. I think it starts with being ultra honest with ourselves.
While this is NOT an expert opinion or a thorough approach to dealing with our junk so that we can be better parents, I do think it’s a good place to start.
Grab that baggage. Unpack it. It can be with a trusted friend, a spouse, a counselor, a therapist or a church leader. Have an honest conversation with your kids--believe me, they see it whether you acknowledge it or not. In fact, you putting words to it will affirm their intuition. For me it was my almost daily ritual of drinking wine, but I could easily mention a plethora of other unhealthy behaviors. Hey--one thing at a time, right?
I, 100% believe that WHEN we get through the hard places, we can start to take our kids to a beautiful place in their future. The one that we always hoped and dreamed for them.
Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
Don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
Wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
Whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
When you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
Good teaching is a light,
Moral discipline is a life path.
Proverbs 6:20, The Message.