Whenever I hear a parent complain to me about her kid, I take a deep breath and let my cheeks fill up with the air for dramatic effect before I blow it out with an exasperated sigh to accompany it. Here’s the deal parents: you haven’t dealt with your own inner child and therefore you believe controlling your own kids is the battle, but it’s not. That child is a representation of your apple that fell from your tree and it doesn’t roll far from the roots of bad behaviors. The greatest influences on your child’s life is you. If you have been neglectful, mean, dismissive, disrespectful, judgmental, angry, shaming, blaming, narcissistic, passive, controlling, fear ridden, religious or any other demonstration of dysfunction when dealing with your children, then grab yourself a mirror and gaze deeply. Ask yourself, “what from my own childhood, taints my parenting?” There are answers inside of you that are probably hard to acknowledge because you didn’t fall far from your parents tree. That’s why family has the potential to become a generational tree of life or death, just like original sin in the Garden of Eden. But make no mistake, redemption is possible once you admit that a small child who has un-met needs is trapped inside your adult body.
We lose our sense of humor as we grow up because we gain more responsibility and adapt to the cultures of society which disengage our emotions from who we were created to be in the womb. Depending on the degree of dysfunction your parents raised you with, and their parents raised them with, some of us could be bringing baggage that nobody else in our family line ever dealt with. While unresolved disputes get passed down, some children become the mediators, crawl into a quiet shell to shut out confrontation, become a surrogate parent to siblings, a substitute spouse or worse of all, fall victim to abuse because some authority figure failed to parent.
Labels get put on certain children for being the “bad apple” of the bunch while similar references get tossed aside for a different child who engages in that same behavior. Any adult who partakes in such favoritism is in denial of their own judgment when a specific child is “apple of a parents eye” over one of his siblings. It becomes an unspoken family understanding that each member can feel, often times without vocabulary to concretely define it.
It is my personal belief after dealing with so many children and parents, that most of the population has at least suffered from neglect or emotional abuse which never has a day in court unless accompanied by physical or sexual assault. If you quantify the amount of unspoken and unprovable accounts of mistreatment which cause confusion in a childs’ developing brain, it points us toward grave misconceptions of acceptable behavior.
I was the apple who was “rotten to the core”, and my siblings knew it, which further scapegoated me. I grouped myself into a category of “isolated kids” because I didn’t even fit in at home. Often times in school these children play solo at recess or don’t engage with peer games because their identity has been framed under negative connotation at home exasperating her belief of being the problem everywhere. Simply put, families have the potential to act like gangs who pit members against each other, and often the leaders are the ones who use authority to persuade those desperate for acceptance the most, to turn on another like a pit bull for affection from the one in charge.
Those in charge were often given the role by default because responsibility for rulership became a necessary evil to maintain routine that changes with additional children. Just because you can procreate doesn’t mean you should. There are plenty of people out here having sex and producing offspring who resent their freedom being stolen. Truth be told, having sex was a way to gain love from someone because it wasn’t foundationally felt on the homefront while young. But once pregnancy has occurred, the need for ownership must follow. Being the mommy is redirecting your frustration from your child back toward the origin of resentment which is your mommy or daddy. They came first and then produced you, so that dynamic needs to be recognized as the first problem. The second problem is the one you are repeating, blaming your child for being a representation of you when you alone have the responsibility of re-parenting yourself and healing from your childhood.
When you don’t own that role and someone else has to fill in wearing your shoes, then acknowledgment of your neglect will be hard. But you do not get to make your kid the problem when they are the fruit of your labor and your labor of love for them got hijacked by an addiction, an attitude or selfishness that you place upon little shoulders that can’t carry the load. You didn’t like it when it was done to you so stop the cycle by taking back the reigns and apologize for lost time. Nothing is wasted, God can redeem our mistakes when He has our admittance of fault finding, the very sin Adam and Eve argued over when each was enticed to bite into the apple, while in paradise.
The garden of Eden highlights our need to be led by a loving Father, establishing the parental protection that all humans need to feel loved even when they don’t understand their motives. We all have desires to be nurtured and cared for but the reality is that babies require three solid years of being taken care of before they are able to express outward emotion. That means that those parents who believe that a baby will instantly love them in response to care, will most likely suffer with resentment and detachment. Yet, all of the un-spokens that we carry as adults, still matter to Christ. He knew the depravity of humanity which is why He came to offer acceptance that few can. When He was Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the garden and addressing Adam and Eve after eating from the knowledge of good and evil, He still covered them in fig leaves to show His great grace.
Christ came so that we would easily connect with the spirit of the Father and trust Holy Spirit to lead us into liberty from generational curses. Procreation was always meant to unite a husband and wife through their love established prior to laying down together. Today, we live in a fast paced world that is far removed from the primitive ideology of Jesus’ time, but He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That hope allows us to seek His help when we feel overwhelmed with decisions that affect children and those we love. All of us are capable of re-direction once we acknowledge that our apples don’t fall far from the tree of our belief. If we simply ask for wisdom to steward the position of parenting with humility and hope, there is ample opportunity to plant new behaviors that will cultivate into standards that will produce love, acceptance and understanding for generations to come.
There is nothing new under the sun and all things first pass by the presence of God, so take courage that your longing to be a better parent or role-model can become a reality. We are an extension of His tree which is firmly rooted in rich soil, capable of healing properties that reach back to the beginning of time. Surrender that need to control, blame or fix your current parenting circumstances and let the Savior of your soul offer healing for not only your offspring, but your own inner child.