The best thing you can do for your children is fix your own junk.
I should know, and it only took me forty years to learn. Don’t believe me? Just ask the children of an angry alcoholic who hits them how glorious it would be if the parent would focus on getting sober and stop slapping the innocent around.
For my story, which has nothing to do with alcohol but everything to do with ugly, we rewind about 10 years…
My teenage daughter and I stood shrieking in yet another dramatic and circular argument, positioned face-to-face with only the kitchen barstools between us.
Why can’t you…
You should just…
You, you, you, and each of us had a finger jabbing toward the other. Suddenly, right in the middle of the endless bickering, (freeze frame) something gave way in me. I don’t even know what it was, but I can pinpoint the very heartbeat that it happened. I call it my barstool surrender.
I was finally miserable enough to change.
Time hovered, like heat waves in a Texas summer. After a few clock ticks, and a finished jolt of realization, I took a deep, cleansing breath, and said calmly,
“Something needs to change and I think it might be me.”
And I turned and walked away. That was the beginning: a surrender.
It’s been a winding road since then, and those are posts for another day. But the bottom line is that I accessed the no-cost Wonderful Counselor, and my destination was freedom/love/joy/peace and other such delightful things. Can’t you see how this makes me a better parent?
I don’t even think about my children’s issues so much anymore. I don’t have time. It’s a full-time job honestly dealing with my own.
Fast forward to now: my daughter and I are restored. Even though she lives a few states away; we talk, we swap recipes, we spend time together, we laugh. She’s one of my best friends, a beautiful woman who has spent her own time dealing with her own junk. A heartfelt “I’m sorry” goes a long way, and forgiveness goes even farther.
My short, sweet parenting advice after raising a house full of children? Focus on your own issues, and fix your junk. Then, you’ll be a better parent for your child. This is not an easy process; in fact, it’s brutal. But it’s so worth it, that your children will thank you some day.
But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23, NIV
(My beautiful daughter today.)
This study helped me fix my junk.
This ministry gave me one free phone counseling session. I called and asked if they had a people department, and they said yes, and put me through.
This website helps me research, remember, hold on, and keep fixing my junk.
This book was a parenting God-send. I like the workbook better, available from the guy below.
This guy will help your church start a lay counseling ministry based on the truths that helped me.
This post is a recent example of my ongoing junk-fixing.
(I now give gratitude money to all of the above linked ministries. I smile when I write the checks.)