MythBusters is a popular science television program in our house. The series stars two special effects guys – Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage who use basic scientific methods (with ample warnings not to try this at home) to test the validity of assorted rumours, myths, movie scenes, old adages and news stories in today’s popular culture.
Once they have scientifically tested the scenarios, based on their findings, they stamp the myth one of three ways:
Plausible! (Believable and appearing likely to be true, but do not have sufficient evidence to confirm.)
Here is how they have graded some past myths (Remember, they TEST each myth!):
Punching a shark in the gills, nose, or eyes could cause it to back off. PLAUSIBLE! (No Kidding!)
A tooth filling can pick up radio signals. BUSTED!
Cola soda can remove bloodstains. CONFIRMED!
Although I never expect to be put in a situation where I might have to face down a shark and actually put the punching legend to test, there is a myth that I battle each day.
THE MYTH OF THE PERFECT PARENT.
We always seem to be taking the perfect parent test and failing. Moreover, we don’t have to look far to find parents who seem (to us) to be passing the test with flying colors!
We have a tendency to judge ourselves, and others, on the basis of our kid’s behaviour. If our children misbehave we think it reflects poorly on us as parents. On the flip side, if they are excelling, we are quick to take all the credit!
The truth is … there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child!
Good and bad tendencies are part of all of us, including our children.
Our little bundles of joy have been shaped by God and put together for a unique purpose – flaws included! It is an unrealistic expectation that our kids will never make mistakes or that we will not mess up as parents.
What is a parent to do?
First we acknowledge that our children do not belong to us but are gifts (Psalm 127:3-5) entrusted to us from God. That includes those days when we want to leave them sitting out on the front step with a “FREE to a good home” sign hanging around their necks!
Secondly, we must accept our God-given task to create a hunger in our children for the things of God.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
This verse has often been misused as a “rabbit’s foot” of sorts; that if we are good parents we will have good kids. However, despite their diligence in training, some parents experience adult children who live lives in total opposition to their up-bringing. Their hearts ache for their kids to show some sign of “not departing from it.” Because they claimed this verse as a guarantee, some parents have even let bitterness grow against God.
In these situations, the God-given gift called “freedom of choice” has come into play. Adult children may choose to go the way of disobedience in spite of what we may have taught them. However, just as my parents are no longer responsible for my choices, my children will one day accept personal responsibility for theirs.
What is my responsibility then?
In those times, a Hebrew mid-wife, after helping to deliver a baby, would dip her finger into a paste made of dates and rub it on the gums of the new baby. This action would cause the baby to be hungry for more, triggering his desire to suck.
As Godly parents we are to create a thirst or a hunger in our children for the things of God. (Deut 6:5-7)
What is behind the perfect parent myth?
Thinking that I, rather than their Creator, am the one who controls the outcome of my kids!
The prophets of the Old Testament had difficult jobs. They were to instruct stubborn, strong-willed groups of people who had track records of showing difficulty in following instructions!
Ezekiel was one such prophet.
God gave this message to Ezekiel to deliver: “If you (my children) do not listen and turn away from your sins, I (Jehovah) will discipline you.”
As Ezekiel tried to digest the message himself, God added: “Oh, by the way. They will not listen to you. They will be rebellious. They will be disrespectful. They will laugh at you.” (Ezekiel 2:3-5 – My paraphrase). Doesn’t that sound like some of our homes these days?
Ezekiel could have thrown his hands in the air and said, “Forget that! Why even bother? If they aren’t going to listen why should I even try to teach them?”
Ezekiel did not do that. Instead, he chose to do what God had asked of him — to teach faithfully the Word of God, and he did so for many years.
Did the nation repent?
Did Ezekiel think he had failed?
Ezekiel understood, like all the prophets, that his responsibility was to faithfully teach. He was to leave the results, and the people’s responses, in the hands of God.
God did not ask Ezekiel for perfection, only faithfulness.
As a parent, there is a lesson here for me as well.
Daily, I must, with God’s strength, wisdom and discernment, teach faithfully (through actions & words) godly principles. In the end, however, I let God be God and leave the results to Him.
There was a period when I was that adult child; living far from what my parents taught me. Yet, God in his awesomeness never gave up His pursuit for His prodigal daughter’s return. Because my parents had faithfully instructed me, my conscience always knew I was on the wrong road. Eventually, I gave up running away from God and instead, ran to Him.
This serves as a reminder that the faithful, wonder-working God that kept and pursued me will do no less for my children.
He never gives up on any of His kids!
Scripture gives us governing principles for training our children, not guarantees. Parents who apply these principles are far more likely to produce godly children than those who do not.
The bottom line?
Cling to the Lord daily; know His Word, trust it, and faithfully teach its principles. Love your children unconditionally; be their guardian and protector, and pray, pray, pray!
Oh yes, and stamp the perfect parent myth….BUSTED!!