It’s strange what I remember from my childhood, and what I’ve forgotten. For example, I can’t remember a single birthday party from before I was six…but I can remember a commercial for women’s deodorant (Dry Idea, I believe) that ended with the phrase, “Never let them see you sweat.”
“Never let them see you sweat”—this seems to be the mantra of many parents. A friend told me, “I want my son to grow up to see me as a someone who never lets people down. I don’t ever want him to see me fail.”
That sort of sounds noble, huh? I just utterly disagree. I believe we need to let our children see us sweat, fail, and botch things up from time to time. They need to see us display genuine humility. One of the best things parents can do is to talk to our kids regularly about our own failures, reminding them that, even as moms and dads, we need the life and death of Jesus in order to be perfect and holy.
This topic really pushes us to examine the deepest goal of our parenting. Specifically, the question is whether our main priority is to give off the impression that we are strong and unflappable or is it our chief aim to show them that God is faithful and His grace is always present? And that we, just like they, need it all the time.
We often have the right instinct—we know our kids need to see strength. But where we often go wrong is in assuming that it is our strength they need to experience.
That’s just not the case. When we act strong in a self-reliant way, our children usually learn to be self-reliant. But when we demonstrate that we are leaning on God’s help every day, they feel permission to admit their weaknesses and declare their need for the grace of God too.
I can’t think of a better “life skill” that we can hand off to our kids—they are on solid ground if they leave our homes aware of their dependence on the grace and strength of God.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” –Jesus, Matthew 9:12-13