Spirit & Truth # 173
“I Have Issues – Painful Parenting”
By Rev. Greg Smith
Soren Kierkegaard said, “The loving mother teaches her child to walk alone. She is far enough from him so that she cannot actually support him. She holds out her arms. Her face beckons like a reward, an encouragement. The child constantly strives toward a refuge in her embrace, little suspecting that in the very same moment he is emphasizing his need for her, he is proving that he can do without her.”
Sad but true. They grow up before we’re ready, asserting their need for us while at the same time insisting on their independence. Sometimes they make good decisions, and sometimes they follow a path that we never would have planned out for them. David’s life gives us an example of painful parenting. He shows us that childrearing, while often a joy, can also be a heartbreak. Perhaps you have something in common with him.
David experienced something a parent should never have to face—the death of his newborn baby. He and his wife Bathsheba grieved terribly. The family drama continued when David’s son Amnon raped David’s daughter Tamar, Amnon’s own half-sister. David’s son Absalom took two years before exacting his revenge on Amnon, killing him in cold blood. Absalom fled for a time, but eventually David forgave him and invited him back to the palace. Absalom became very popular among the people, and since he thought he was more fit to rule than his father, he led a rebellion which resulted in his death. David’s lament echoes in our ears, "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!"[i] Even on his deathbed, David’s family knew no peace, as tensions arose between his sons Adonijah and Solomon, concerning who would succeed their father on the throne. David’s was a family gone horribly wrong.
Maybe your family hasn’t known all the travails that David’s family experienced. But perhaps you can identify with his sense of loss, betrayal, disappointment, grief, and self-blame that David felt. No father or mother is exempt from the pains of parenthood. Even God Himself saw His two children Adam and Eve rebel against Him. Then His Son Jesus had to pay the price for their sins, through an agonizing death on a cross. You can rest assured that God understands your pain. He’s felt it, too.
You can also take comfort in the knowledge that God’s hand of correction, discipline, love, and grace can reach farther than yours ever could. Even when your children are out of your reach, they are never out of His. Though Jesus could cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,”[ii] God answers back, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[iii] God promises, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”[iv] You can know that He also loves and cares for your children.
[i] 2 Samuel 18:33 HCSB
[ii] Matthew 27:46
[iii] Joshua 1:5 NIV
[iv] Psalm 91:4 NIV