The parent with “issues” is sometimes easy to see: the mom who still wears skinny jeans, the dad that cusses out the umpire. But the sin of loading our own baggage into our children’s luggage compartments is often more subtle. It influences everything from the way we prioritize discipline to the way we choose conflict avoidant or passive aggressive behavior.
As one who works with parents for a living, I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of parents who have not faced directly their own hurts and pain. These parents have learned from their parents (or have self-taught) the art of avoiding pain by not addressing problems head on. In my own life I’ve developed a set of questions to help me realize if my parenting issues are due to baggage that has created the avoidance of pain:
- Am I sending off an email to avoid meeting face to face because I’m afraid the confrontation will be painful? Who hurt me to cause me to avoid this person?
- Am I ignoring pain, telling myself that a situation is not worth the bother? Do I mask it by calling it forgiveness? When did that last work for me?
- Am I slow to show grace because the last time I showed grace it was not well received? In what way was that grace recipient like this person?
- Do I feel the need to “check with other parents” to see if they are having the same struggles I am with a teacher or coach? Why am I so afraid to meet with the individual in a Biblical manner? What is the root to that issue?
- What or who has hurt me so deeply that I “just can’t go through it again”? Why can’t I go through it again? Why can’t I use it to show grace?
Grace—undeserved favor—is the only way to cure the past baggage of pain. Grace often involves giving someone kindness, understanding, and forgiveness when they absolutely do not deserve it. Grace can only be found in going directly to Christ with the expectation that He will help us carry the hurt.
There is an old Latin phrase used by doctors,” Ubi pus, ibi evacua.” It means, if there is pus, there must be evacuation. Gross, I know. But puss has to be removed from the human body. Why? Because it contains the damages of a battle the body has performed on infection. The war remains have to be removed for the health of the body. Not a bad quote for emotional healing either.