There are certain things I will never tell my children. As moms, a natural role that we generally have a genuine design to fulfill is that of comforter to our children. We want to be the one to kiss our babies’ boo-boos, to dry their tears and to tell them that everything is going to be OK. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as our kids get older we can let it go too far. Sometimes the drive to not just give comfort, but to encourage our children can lead us to say things that aren’t exactly helpful — even though we have the best intentions.
The older I get, the more I realize that I’m not doing my kids any favors if I shield them from the fact that life isn’t fair and that it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, no matter what kind of effort we put in. With that in mind, here are five things I’ve resolved to never tell my kids.
1. I will never tell my children “You can be anything you want to be.”
It’s not that I don’t want my kids to pursue their passions — I absolutely do. But I also want them to take a hard look at the skills and talents that they have and use those talents and goals to do something great, rather than pursuing professions that they’re not suited for. For instance, I was never going to be a talented gymnast or athlete of any kind. I can’t stand blood or bodily fluids so I never would’ve made it as a doctor or nurse. There are probably a dozen different careers that I would’ve failed miserably at if I would’ve tried them, no matter how hard I worked. In the end, I went with a career choice fueled by my natural love of language and communication and I am proud of what I have achieved. So, I’m not going to tell my kids that they can be anything that they dream if it’s obviously not something they have a natural inclination for. Instead I’m going to encourage them to work hard and do their best to achieve the goals that they have set in life.
2. I will never tell my children “Failure is not an option.”
Though we often hear this platitude from sports figures and reality TV contestants, the truth is that failure is always an option for all of us and that every single one of us will experience it. I won’t tell my kids that it’s not an option, I will tell them to expect it and to learn from it. I want them to always do their best and if that result in failure so be it. There is positive that comes from every failure. I have seen that in my life many times and that is what I will teach them.
3. I will never tell my children “Listen to your heart.”
“Listen to your heart” and its evil twin “follow your heart” are together just about the most dangerous piece of advice we could give our children. The Bible says we should God our heart but it does not say to follow it. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure it says not to trust it, wait…yep…here it is in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” I’ll never tell my kids to follow their hearts, but I will tell them to follow the Lord. To trust in Him, acknowledge Him and let Him direct their steps. If we are truly immersing ourselves in following the Lord and our hearts are definitely more trustworthy, but we should always check our actions against the scriptures that He left behind for us.
4. I will never tell my children “I promise it will be OK.”
This is something I want to tell my children, something I truly wish with all my heart that I could tell them. The reality is I can’t promise my children a life without tragedy. We live in a broken world. Bad things happen to good people, and may very well happen to my kids and my family. Encouraging my children to believe a false promise that everyone who follows the Lord will have a rosy, happy life is foolish and destructive. Because we believe in Christ, we do have the promise that everything will be OK one day in heaven. But an OK life is certainly nothing I can guarantee my children here on earth. I can tell them that whatever hardships we walk through we will not walk through alone. I can tell them I will always be there for them while I walk this earth, and that I will love them no matter what. I can tell them that God will never leave them or forsake them. I simply cannot tell them that everything is going to be “all right.”
5. I will never tell my children “You deserve the best.”
As a mom, I do want to give my kids my best. But I won’t be telling them they deserve anything. The Bible says that what we actually deserve for our sinful actions is death, but that Christ has redeemed us and given us the offer of eternal life. My kids were not born being owed anything by the world, and I won’t tell them that they deserve it. They are designed to have their needs met by me and their dad when they are babies and to be taught by us as they grow. It’s on us to fulfill the responsibilities that God has given us when it comes to our kids, and we do. But what they get in life materially, I do hope they earn through hard work and don’t expect from a perceived birthright. That being said, I will always have grace for them as my Father has had it for me, and give it freely!
I know I’ve slipped up with some of these platitudes before, but I’ve honestly made it a goal as my kids get older to really watch my words and only tell them the realistic truth, even when it’s hard. After all I’m not raising kids, I’m raising adults — and the more I prepare them in an age-appropriate way for the realities of the world adults face, the better off they’ll be.