Jinger Duggar Vuolo’s recent interview highlights something important for us as Christian parents, I think. Just like we can go off into the ditch of permissiveness and exposing our kids to too much too soon, we can also go off into the ditch of overprotection and legalism.
It’s heartbreaking to hear how she missed out on true joy and freedom in Christ because of a focus on outward appearances and anxiety over stepping out of line.
In a time when deconstruction stories seem to be popping up left and right, I get that this feels like another “blame the parent” narrative. Maybe the fact that this is so public makes it feel that much more like an attack.
But do parents make mistakes? Yes. Does the church get it wrong sometimes? Absolutely.
Neither the Duggars, nor you and I, are above accountability.
As parents, we are not infallible. And if a parent has made decisions that affect a kid negatively, their adult child has the right to say so in a gracious and loving way.
Without dwelling on it. Without acting like a victim. Without saying awful things about their parents’ character or motivation, but rather speaking out about the ideology which they brought into the home that caused pain, confusion, or damage.
While you should honor your parents, you don’t have to honor their error.
We’re not completely responsible for our children’s choices or their feelings, but we are the most significant influence in their lives. Our words and our attitude toward them have the power to build up or tear down.
What children believe about themselves, to a large extent, comes from us. These beliefs can affect nearly every aspect of their lives. Do the words we speak steal joy, or lend hope? Do they ultimately bring death, or give life?
At times I have parented out of fear and insecurity. I have hurt my children by my words or tone, or by my unfair expectations of them. I’ve needed to be humble enough to admit my faults and repent.