Sometimes the "no" comes because the parent sees that something is not good for the child, but as they get older the "no" often comes because the parent is simply unable to grant the request due to lack of resources, either financial or otherwise. At this point the child pulls out the dreaded "other parents" arrow, the one that was tipped with a rubber stopper when they were a small child but is now sharpened to a steely point and pierces straight to the heart.
The child isn't trying to hurt the parent, they just do not understand. They "want" and as a parent we desperately "want" to help but we have long ago come to the realization that we are not Superman. Heck, we're not even Ironman or Hulk or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. At best we are the sidekick that is constantly having to be rescued. We are Jimmy Olsen or Pepper or whoever it was that hung out with the Hulk. We are helpless.
Recently I stood and had a conversation with another parent who was dealing with this same kind of situation. I wanted to just hug her because I understand! Oh, how I understand! Other parents seem to be able to "give" their children everything and we stand there with nothing in our hands, hoping we'll figure out a way to simply hang on and not drown in bills before they become "self-sufficient adults"...and in the process, of course, we feel like we have failed them somehow.
It's a vicious cycle. We feel guilt that we've allowed them to become so selfish and at the same time wish so much that we could make things easier on them. We see them struggle to grow and they look to us as if somehow we can make it easier...only we can't.
As parents, we feel that we are the only ones struggling - the only ones who somehow failed at this parenting thing, but we aren't. That is what the enemy wants us to believe, that we're the only ones... that way he keeps us isolated and in despair. But look around. There is a whole generation with their hand out saying they "deserve" something for free.
Before you think I am looking down on youth, I am not. I think we were probably all like that at their age, but we just weren't as vocal and weren't surrounded by others who agreed with us. My parents struggled, I didn't realize till years after they were gone just how much. Oh, how I wish I could hug them and say I am sorry for being such a selfish brat.
The thing is, giving a child everything is not the answer, but it is something every parent wants to be able to do. I guess it's a good thing God hasn't allowed me to have the resources to give to my children all that I want to because it would short circuit what He wants to do in their lives...the plan He has for THEM.
It is in the struggle that we grow. We've all heard the story of the person who "helped" a butterfly out of the cocoon or the bird from the egg...they discover that because of the "helping" the creature doesn't survive. The struggle is necessary.
Our head knows this, sometimes even our hearts realize this is true; but then that precious child looks at us and you can see that they no longer see you as the superhero they once did. In fact, at times they look at us in disgust as utter failures...and it hurts. The arrow no longer has that rubber tip, it is sharp and jagged and it finds its way to our heart. Think I'm exaggerating? Ask any parent who has been on the receiving end of one of those looks. The pain is very real.
I don't like to write a blog that is filled with hopelessness and this one is not...for in time there is a glimmer of hope that shines through. The seeds of love and faith that you have planted in them will grow. God's Word does not return void and we've planted it in them. We may not see it yet, but it will come.
Train up a child in the way that they should go...our job is training, their job is to go. Somewhere in between along with all the pain and frustration, there will come joy. I have to believe it because God said it was so...and "God don't tell no lies."
One more thing. As we talked, I remembered another "parent" who had provided for their child and taught him in the way that he should go only to have the child turn and do something very, very stupid. Maybe he thought his father was holding out on him. Perhaps you've heard of him. His name was Adam, and he had a wife named Eve.
God understands a my heartbreak and frustration. Somehow that makes me feel a little better.
So, no matter what those "other parents" do, don't worry. They are working to raise the child God entrusted to them. It may look like they are somehow doing a better job, but God knew what He was doing when He gave this child to you...even if you are pretty sure He must have made a mistake. Don't look at the "other parents, look to Him. Trust Him. He's got this.
After my conversation with that parent, I heard the following song come on the radio. It could be the anthem for all parents everywhere. I will trust in You
Helpful advice on parenting: Joe McGee Ministries
Side note: As I searched for a picture to go with this blog, I remembered that children are "arrows"...as we launch them into the world they go forth to destroy the enemy, each in their own way. Special thanks to Madi and her mom for allowing me to use her photo for this blog. She is one arrow that is going far and I look forward to hearing all the wonderful things that she will do!