As adults, when we make bad choices, we expect and accept the consequences that come with it. But when it comes to our children, we can feel more than a hint of guilt when they make a bad choice. Is it your fault that your child wasn't able to make the right choice? Did he/she lack your guidance? Were you lacking in teaching your child how to make the right choices?
I know for a fact that there are parents out there you'll willingly take on the "Bad Mom or Dad of the Year" award when their child makes a bad choices. But let me ask you, is taking that responsibility the right way to go?
I'm sure everyone will have an opinion about this and the situations differ from one household to another. However, we can all find common ground when our child makes a bad choice. Almost all parents will feel the same way and that is what we can talk about today.
1. Dealing with Guilt
Why do you feel guilty? I can list down a number of reasons here. Are you guilty because deep inside you know that you could've done better in guiding your child? Are you guilty because you know that your child lacks your love and attention? Are you guilty because you are too focused on work and you've set your family aside?
As I've said, every household has a different situation but if you're feeling guilty, then there's a reason for it. As a mom or dad, it's hard not to blame yourself for your child's bad choice. In situations like this, you'll always wonder if you could've done things better.
However, at the end of the day, you're only human too. Just like your child, you also need God's guidance. You can't feel guilty every time your child makes a poor choice. If you honestly believe that you've done your part as a parent, then it's time to start letting go of the guilt and empower yourself more.
2. Taking Responsibility
Just the other day, I was with my 2 year old son at a large warehouse store and just like any toddler, he loves to run around. He was walking beside me until I checked out the price of a frying pan. When I put the pan down, my son was nowhere in sight. I asked the sales clerks to help me find him, and even asked the store's guard to help us track him down. After almost five minutes of panic and near-despair, we finally found him!
You know what I did the moment we found him? There was a sigh of relief but I immediately blamed my child for running away. Deep inside, I knew it was my fault for letting him out of my sight. But still, I asked myself, should I really be this hard on myself? I looked at the pan for a mere 10 seconds max!
Well my son is a toddler so I know that the responsibility lies with me. But if your child is older and now grown up, then that's a different scenario. Taking responsibility when needed is good, but you can't always take the blame. If you've taught your child what's right and wrong and he/she keeps making the bad choice, then is that still your responsibility? I know that parents feel responsible because carrying that weight is a result of the guilt. But again, you can't carry the weight on your shoulders every single time, especially if you know you've already told them things 1000 times but to no avail. Allow your child to learn that for every bad action, there's a corresponding consequence and he/she should take responsibility for it.
3. Exercising Free Will
When God created us, He gave us free will. Even if He could make us make good choices all the time, He still wanted us to make a choice. This is the same thing with your child. Your child has the right and freedom to make his own choices.
As parents, you cannot control how your child thinks and acts. To put it simply, you cannot control how your child will make choices as they grow up. What you can do is guide them to the right direction and hope that when it's time to make big, important decisions then your child will make the right choice.
Knowing that your child can exercise his/her free will, you cannot blame yourself when he/she makes a bad choice. It's the same thing as not being able to take credit when your child makes the right choice.
Dealing with children is very tricky. They're complicated little human beings and oftentimes, we can't understand what they're thinking. Nonetheless, we love them with all our hearts, just as much as God loves each and every one of us even if we make poor choices as adults. So parents, just do what you do and do it in the best way you can. Remember, God is with you all the way, so turn to Him and pray to Him for guidance as you raise your children, and also pray for your children that they can grow wise in faith and spirit, and can always turn to the scriptures and to prayer when making their big decisions in life.