Some of us grew up in really messy and broken homes, sometimes even in the church. You know the ways it distorted you and if you are in the middle of parenting now you may even live in fear that you will repeat the sins that were done to you. Some may hide behind a Facebook image that all is going well when the reality is far from it. You can decide to be the generation in your family that does the 180 degree turn and changes the trajectory that your family is on. How do you start?
- Embrace and admit your own brokenness. This is a painful process but necessary if you have any hope of recovering. You cannot give what you do not have. If you have been parented poorly, you need to start letting God parent you differently. Where are the places of your brokenness? Can you name them? Can people you are close to help you see what you can’t?
Here are some questions to help:
- What kind of person am I?
- What does Jesus long to heal in me?
- What kind of things come out of my mouth and indicate what is in my heart?
- How authentic am I with others? Is there a lot of pretending happening when I am in my larger community or am I the same person at home that I am out there?
- Start by making decisions from a place of recovery, not repeating your parent’s mistakes. Will you change how you make decisions or will you just sit back and helplessly repeat what has happened before? Both will cost you. Recovery is a very hard road but the end is so worth it. Repeat feels easier now but the end is heartache. You get to decide.
- Focus on what good parenting looks like. It can be easy to focus on what they did wrong but that can drain you of the ability to focus on what you need to do right. Use their bad example to keep you motivated to change and bless your kids.
- Find healthier people who are ahead of you on this path; ask them to walk with you. Others are already on the path to this kind of life change. Look for them and ask for help. They will be glad to share what God has done in them and what it could look like in you. Watch them model something different.
- Endure the pain of change instead of being overcome by the pain of regret. If you decide to change your generation’s parenting experience, overcoming what your parents did will be a challenge. It is hard to parent differently, which is exactly why parenting well matters so much. The next generation needs you to do better. Surrender completely to the Holy Spirit’s work in you. You will need to the Holy Spirit’s help to change. If you don’t become the transitional generation after recognizing the need to be, you will at some point be overcome by the pain of regret.
- Remember that God uses broken people. He can still use you in amazing ways to change your generation even if you don’t get as far as you would like. Your kids don’t need to see you be perfect, they just need you to authentically own and apologize for mistakes as you make them and move towards good growth. Trust Him to keep moving your family forward in life-giving change and rest in His work.
Laura Elliott is the Editorial Director of Pioneer Clubs. She has experience in teaching (7 years), editing (16 years), children’s ministry (30 years), and being a mom to three kids (18 years). She loves thinking about how to introduce children to Jesus , and how to partner with parents and the church to create an environment in both places where dynamic faith can grow.