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Not Being Scared of the Story

I recently read a book by the same authors who wrote The Cure, which is an amazing exploration of grace and what it looks like to embrace the life of Jesus inside (which has impacted me greatly). It’s called The Cure and Parents (by Bill and Grace Thrall, John and Stacey Lynch, Bruce and Janet McNichol).

There were many great thoughts and insights in the book, but I’m not going to quote it today so much as share an idea from it. When parents begin to see kids who are stretching their independence, it may induce fear and the tendency to try to control/manipulate them into “good behavior.”

One of the things we may do is attempt to present a sanitized version of our own adolescence because we want them to avoid the pitfalls that we experienced as well as not repeat the mistakes.

You could say something like, “I’m just glad I listened to my parents and didn’t hang out with the wrong people. I was too busy praying and reading the Bible and knitting sweaters for military vets.”

Or you may say nothing at all, hiding your bad decisions thinking that not sharing your fumbling adventures through adolescence will keep them from having an excuse for their own questionable choices.

But it’s all a lie. Kids are not dumb, they know when you’re being inauthentic. They involuntarily eye roll (on the inside or outside) when we cherry pick facts in a story to make a simplistic morality fable.

Sure, you can do it in the hopes of protecting them, but they smell the manure a mile away and they quickly lose trust. As parents or leaders or friends, real relationships require truth and vulnerability.

A good story is the whole story, warts and all.

We have to understand that our kids, for the most part, are not looking for an excuse to do something terrible and screw up their lives. Most of the time they want to do the right thing, and by sharing our own struggles and stories, they begin to see they’re not alone.

That’s one of the best gifts we can give anyone so why wouldn’t we give that to our kids?

I realize not everyone out there is a parent, but use it in your current relationships and let this powerful tool grow into the future. The caution is, we can’t simply use it to teach a lesson. It has to be real and it has to be out of love.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. –Psalm 51:6

That’s our God. He desires truth, all our parts (aka stories) integrated into us as He reveals His redemption. As we experience that liberating reality, why would we hold that back from others around us, especially our kids.

I’m not saying I’m the best at this, but I’m working on it; and God’s working on it in me.

What are your thoughts here? Have you ever been given the gift of vulnerability? Do you agree or disagree with the parenting aspect of this?

8 Comments

  1. My parents were relatively easy going, later on after my father passed away my mom became more strict with me. She tried her best to teach me about life’s hard lessons, in order for me to have an easier go of it. I just kept rolling my eyes. Oh man…what a lesson I’ve learned: always listen to the older folks…they have the wisdom that you need to get by. Of course, they have to be stable in their lives. My mom, compared to my father’s mother who was very manipulative, was very stable.

    • Great reminder to have grace with our loved ones. We may not know fully where they’ve been or what they’ve overcome/had to deal with. Thanks Ed.

  2. You’re so right, Jason. Our kids (and grandkids) certainly can tell when we are not being straight with them. I think, looking back, that I was pretty straightforward with my two, though I know I made lots of mistakes along the way. Just so grateful to God that both turned out all right in spite of me! 🙂
    Blessings!

    • I think that’s so key--we can feel so guilty about what we either did or didn’t do, but when we can simply say, “I did the best I could…” and then look at how we move forward and what that looks like in our relationships. Such a wonderful gift God has given us. Thanks so much, Martha.

  3. My girls are grown now although one has moved back in since moving back from 15 years in Knoxville. I have always tried to be transparent with them. I have wanted them to see me warts and all.
    Bill (cycleguy) recently posted..MEMy Profile

    • I would be curious to know how they responded to your transparency. I would imagine the relationship would be stronger, but I will say it’s hard to make that switch from the more authoritarian parenting they need as little kids to the other (and I didn’t see it modeled really). Thanks for being an example, Bill. Appreciate your thoughts.

  4. I might too real with my kids! Seriously though, my wife and I have always tried to as transparent as we could be. That included admitting when we were wrong and asking forgiveness. That alone has has healed and help our relationships as time passes. Bless ya!
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..StepsMy Profile

    • Oh my, I’ve had to ask my kids for forgiveness many, many times. It never gets easier! I want to be transparent. Thanks for being an example of the possibility, Jay. Really appreciate you! 🙂

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