Recently, I was at a conference and a speaker made a joke about his young children being disrespectful and he and his wife questioning what they were doing wrong. The whole audience laughed but there was more to it than just a response to a funny joke. There was a tangible sense of relief as people realized that this influential, God-fearing speaker had children that misbehaved as well.
In parenting, it seems that one of the biggest shames we carry is our children's misbehavior. In my experience, people rarely talk about it but we all measure and compare..."Is this normal?" We want to know, "Am I doing something wrong? Am I alone in this?"
After the speaker concluded, my group of friends and I all talked about the relief that we felt from someone validating that their kids misbehave and are funky sometimes. I don't think that bashing or degrading our kids is the cure for parenting shame but we do need to know that other peoples' kids aren't always perfect. If we can't be real about our struggles in parenting, then we will isolate ourselves for fear of being exposed. Our kids won't get to experience the beauty of community and we won't get to be encouraged, supported and helped!
Our children are a blessing, heavens to Betsy, yes. Psalm 127. BUT, we can't deflect shame by only showing the happy and successful side of raising kids and family. We combat shame by bringing the weird, funky stuff into the light. Maybe not on the internet but with trusted friends who can stand with you and help you along and call out identity in your children when you can't see it. It goes against the world's ways to bring the things that you're most embarrassed by into the light but that's how we are healed from shame in the Kingdom of God. It's upside down thinking for us but that's where the freedom is.
Meanwhile, in the trenches of parenting, I cannot measure myself based on my perceived successes or failures in parenting. I cannot measure YOU based on what I perceive as your successes or failures. In parenting, as in life, there is so much unseen and I must must must return to my Father's words to remember my identity and to remember your identity. We are His own. (2 Corinthians 1:22) We are accepted by Him (Romans 15:7) We have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority (Col 2:9-10). We are loved (1 John 3).