By: Kathryn Jackson
As a kid, it’s easy to believe your parents are superheroes. But as you grow up – and especially after becoming a parent yourself – you realize that they’re just people. They work hard to do their best, but ultimately make mistakes that they regret (who doesn’t?). Our parents’ humanity impacts our lives for better for worst, and the vast majority of us – from small annoyances to extreme harms – have childhood memories that make us say, “I want to do ______ differently than my parents did.”
Last week, I had a conversation with my mom that I’ve been thinking about ever since. As we were taking a walk, she said to me, “One of the biggest regrets of my life is teaching my kids to stay in and stay safe, rather than go out and make a difference.” Whew.
I think this is an idea we can all relate to. When I think about my kids going through negative experiences like heartbreak, grief, uncertainty, and fear, I have a visceral reaction. I get a pit in my stomach, and I want to gather them up in my arms and keep them safe forever. But I know I can’t do that.
For their sake and mine, I have to encourage them to make new friends. This could lead to rejection. I must teach them to speak out when someone is being hurt or bullied. This could lead to alienation. I cannot keep them from falling in love. This could lead to heartbreak.
Every single thing I long for my children to be and to receive in their lives could lead to loss. That’s the deal we make when we enter into this dangerous and wonderful world. For all the good, there is grief, and for all the beauty, there is brokenness.
We don’t get to choose one or the other for our children, but we can teach them about self-worth, listening to their gut to avoid truly dangerous situations, introducing them to new experiences under our watchful eyes, and most of all – reminding them over and over, day after day, that they are ours, and come what may, they will never, ever lose our love.