For years, as Matthew and I raised our kids, I was afraid to put a final stamp on them. When people would say nice things about them, I would always say thank you, but I would quickly put an tag line on it and say, “But you never know, the jury’s still out.” Why did I do that? Well, for a couple of reasons, neither of which was fair to my kids. I knew in my mind, that at any moment, any of my well behaved kids could misstep. At any time, they could make a bad decision, take a turn down a dangerous road, or fall into a sin trap. The second reason, was because in the broken places of my own mind, I was afraid that if I lifted them too high, they would surely fall just to prove me wrong, and then I would have to eat crow. Even writing this blog is causing me a bit of anxiety.
The truth of the matter is, I have great kids. By the world’s standards and in this current society, Matthew and I have managed to pull off nothing short of a miracle. The jury isn’t still out on them at all. I know my children, I know their hearts, and they are all stellar human beings.
There. I said it.
But here is the truth about all of that. I cannot measure my children by the world’s standards or by what society says is a “good kid”. While they may not cheat, steal, lie (much), use bad language, do drugs or drink alcohol, or engage in things that only married people do… and while they honor us as their parents, love each other (except sometimes when they don’t), and generally abide by the rules of society, this is not what makes them good kids. It is what makes them easier kids to parent.
Another thing I am known for saying is that while I do have easy kids, it is more in spite of Matthew and me, than because of us. We strive to be “good parents”, but we often come up short of that mark. We have always been engaged in on the job training, and we just don’t always get it right. My kids are sometimes lazy, and occasionally irresponsible. They can be inconsiderate of one another, and of Matthew and me. While they can all do their own laundry, there are many things that I do for them that they should be doing for themselves. I certainly hope my daughter’s future husband loves to cook.
I don’t really like referring to kids as “good kids” any more than I like it when people refer to someone as a “good Christian”. What does that even mean, really? Good by whose standard? If we look at the only real standard, then none of us is good. Jesus, not society’s idea, is the good standard. If we compare anyone to that standard, then they all fall short. (John 15:5, Romans :23)
It is true that Matthew and I have chosen to invest much into our children. We have given them time and attention as well as money and things. We have given them love and support. We have given them discipline and grace. But more than any of those things, to shape our kids, we have given them Jesus, and each of them at the appointed time, accepted their identity in Christ as their own. For kids to be “good”, they have to love Christ more than they love the things of this world. Apart from Christ, our goodness is dependent upon our circumstances. Apart from Christ, our standard of goodness is likely to shift according to popular opinion.
The fact of the matter is, we are all bad kids. We can do no good thing separate from Jesus. Some of us have a tough time doing good standing right next to him. I had to laugh yesterday as I read an article on a study that produced the twenty names most associated with “bad kids”. It was not a very serious study, but someone did spend the time to look into it, and there on the list was one of my kid’s names. I had to laugh because I know the truth. Apart from Jesus, this kid would be quite a handful, indeed. It is true that parenting, environment, and life circumstances all play into making us who we are. But apart from Christ, we are all still bad kids.
So yes, I am proud of who my kids are, and how they are continuing to grow in their relationships to Jesus. I do know, however, that just like me, at any time, they can succumb to sin. So I continue to pray and intercede on their behalf. Of all the things I can do for my kids, this is the best and most crucial. So how about we drop the “good kids/bad kids” labels, and recognize that beyond what they do, our kids are all precious and in need of a Savior? We gave them life, now let’s keep giving them Jesus.