It is the accusation we are afraid of as parents. That our children really do reflect who we are, even as they are developing their own personalities and wills. It is why we freak out the most when our children freak out in public places.
We do not want to look bad.
A note came home from school this week. We get to set up an appointment to talk to a teacher about behavior at school. As I read that note I felt like I was looking into one of those magnifying mirrors that reflect every flaw. Every insecurity about who I am as a parent rose up within me and I wondered how I am failing my child.
Even at drop off at the school I imagined that the ladies helping each child out of their vehicles and into the school were looking at me, knowing that my child is not perfect in the classroom. I feel like it is my fault.
Children are a reflection of their parents. It rings in my head and fills me with guilt when my child does not meet a standard of perfection associated with school. Or sports. Or church.
As I looked at the note home from the teacher, I realized how often I am the teacher.
I imagined the guilt or judgment felt by parents of students in our ministry at church. Those parents who are struggling with behavior issues at home, or struggling to get their children through the doors of the church, or struggling to get their children to pray or read their bibles.
When they see me, all of their insecurities as parents rise up within them, and they do not know what to say or do around me. You know, the “youth minister”, the “expert” in youth culture. The friend to their child.
These are the things that cause me to worry about how my children are reflecting me wherever they go. I am the one other parents go to for help with their children. I am the “expert” and if my child does not meet the standard of perfection, then the entirety of my life’s work is called into question.
Like a magnifying mirror revealing every flaw.
The truth is, my child’s teacher simply wants help in determining the best course of action with my child. She is not judging me. She is asking for help.
Parenting is hard. It is one of the most difficult things we can do. Children have their own wills and are learning to differentiate themselves from their parents. Sometimes it is not pretty. Often they fail to meet our imaginary standards of perfection.
When that happens, it does not make us bad parents. When that happens, it does not make them bad kids.
It just reveals how much they and we need grace.
Grace is a mirror I can look into all day.