We love our children, even when they are difficult to love. Many of us do our best to protect our children from harm. This could be physical harm, such as keeping them out of a busy street, or emotional harm, such as disappointment or a broken heart. As parents, we don’t want our children to experience many of the pains that we have dealt with.
Years ago, there was a boy who suffered from a deficiency that made his immune system not function. He was known as the bubble boy and his story was told in several ways, most prominently in a movie. He was kept in almost complete isolation from the environment, in an effort to protect him. He ultimately died from complications related to a treatment he had received in an attempt to cure him. I remember at the time some parents joking that they wish they could raise their kids in a bubble to protect them from various threats or influences in society.
Most of us weren’t raised nor are we raising our kids in a bubble like this young man, but we all make attempts to protect our children from some things in much the same way that this young boy’s parents acted to protect him from disease. We place walls between our kids and potential threats. We do our best to limit risk that they face and don’t desire for them to face pain as they are growing up. This is normal behavior for parents, especially when our kids are very young, but as they get older it should be normal for these restrictions and limitations to decrease.
Another great desire of parents is for their children to feel loved. We love our kids and want them to understand that. We start out by showing our love by taking care of the needs of a baby and a toddler. They need us and a good, loving parent wants to take care of those needs. In time, we show love for them in other ways, such as physical affection, kind words, gifts and doing fun things with them. If you have read any of the books by Dr. Gary Chapman on The Five Love Languages, you can recognize that different kids receive love in different ways.
There is balance in all things and when things get out of balance that is most often where problems occur. Protecting your children from unnecessary harm is a good goal, but setting out to protect them from experiencing any pain is not possible and would be harmful in the long run. There are times as a parent when the most loving thing you can do for your child is to allow them to experience pain and disappointment.
Love is also not giving your children everything they want. It is loving to take care of the needs our children have, both physical needs like rest and hunger and emotional needs, such as the need to feel secure or to feel cared for. Love is blended with care and instruction, so children can know the benefits of our love, but also understand their place in this world and that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Our children are important to us, but they should not be the center of our universe. That isn’t healthy for us or them.
All of these things in healthy balance will help parents to be able to experience the joy of having a continuing relationship with their children into the future. The Bible points to discipline as a foundational part of this.
God’s desire for your children is better than your own. He wants your children to know the love of Christ and your love. He wants your children to continue in truth and to experience a “harvest of righteousness”. Godly discipline is always in the context of His love. God’s discipline in our life works because of the context of His sacrificial love. Our discipline is effective in the context of our love for our children. This balance of love and discipline keeps parents on track as they attempt to balance showing love for their children with acting in ways that point them towards God, even when their children don’t often recognize it as loving at the time it is given.
When our children are grown and gone from our direct sphere of influence, they will grow even more into their own opinions and ideas. Some of these may be very different than our own. This is normal and as our children move out into the world, they have different needs than they did when they were home. The greatest need that they have throughout their life, is their need for Christ. The other need they have that will continue throughout their life is the need to know that they continue to be loved by us.
As kids become adults and become more of their own persons, it is important that we don’t allow the differences that exist between us to separate them from Christ or from our love. Teaching the truth is important, but as Christians, we always teach the truth in love. The truth was never intended to be a wall between our children and our love for them. Because of His great love for us, God provided a means of salvation for all mankind through His son, Jesus. Because of our love for our children, we desire them to know that truth and the truth of the love we have for them.
Walls are built up for eternally insignificant reasons, such as politics, finances and unfortunate personal decisions. These are man made walls and as a parent one of the main ways we can continue to love our kids is to make sure that man made walls like these never come between our children and the love of Christ or the love we have for them.