What happens when you realize your parents aren't perfect

Tucker Ficklin

There’s not much more in my life that I want more than to be a parent. But there’s also nothing that scares me more than the thought of being a parent.

I can’t wait to make my kids listen to my “old 2010s” music and watch them cringe at my Justin Timberlake tunes. I can’t wait to take a huge family road trip and introducing my kids to new places. I can’t wait to share my son’s passions and hobbies with him or show my daughter how much she is loved and valued.

But I can wait to change diapers. And to be woken up a thousand times a night. And I want to skip the middle school years if that's allowed. 

But most of all, I want to skip the part where I disappoint my kids. 

We're All Destined To Be Imperfect Parents

Life is messy because we are messy. Relationships are hard because we’re all sinful. The Bible is clear that we are all sinners and we all mess up. We’re all selfish and broken, motivated by our imperfect desires. 

If you’re lucky, you got to grow up not realizing this was true of everyone, including your parents. I was lucky enough to have two parents who seemed to be perfect. They worked hard to provide for my sister and I, and they loved each other a lot. They taught us a lot about loving people, how to be responsible with money, and followed Jesus passionately. My third-grade view of my parents was like the way a kid looks up to their favorite superhero — with complete and utter admiration. 

It wasn’t until I grew older that I started to realize my parents were just people. They stopped seeming like modified supernatural mutants God chose specifically for me, and more like two broken people with fears, insecurities, and brokenness. Their words, which used to be as true to me as anything else, started giving me less and less clarity. I started dealing with things they hadn’t experienced and didn’t understand. They would give me advice that left me feeling misunderstood and crazy rather than comforted. It finally hit me that my parents weren’t the all-knowing confidants I saw them as before. 

Parents are messy people who need Jesus’ grace just as much as the next person. 

So what do you do with this? What happens when you realize that parents are messy people who need Jesus’ grace just as much as the next person? 

For me, I freaked out. It was a strange new world. However, the Lord used a season of seeing my parent’s brokenness to reveal my own brokenness, and ultimately how much we all need Jesus. 

Three Things God Is Teaching Me About Honoring My Parents Through Adulthood

1. Obeying Him means honoring my father and mother. 

Exodus 20:12 is a command from God to His people: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” 

Maybe you have really been done wrong by your family. Perhaps your issues with your parents have only gotten worse as time has gone on, and they go a lot deeper than them just disappointing you from time to time. This could be a hard pill to swallow for you. However, honoring your father and mother is still commanded in Scripture. 

2. My parents aren’t always right, but I’m not either. 

As we grow up, we learn our seemingly-superhero parents are sinful and human. But we also find out that they are right about a lot of things. Honoring my parents doesn’t only mean approaching disagreements respectfully, but accepting the fact that they do know what they’re talking about sometimes. 

3.  We all need the power of grace. 

Just like I need forgiveness for yelling, “I hate you!” at least 20 times a week as a middle schooler, my parents need forgiveness for their bumps in the road as well. When God decided that my parents would be the ones that raised me, they didn’t receive an instruction manual. The only thing any of us have to work off of is God’s Word, which is full of grace and mercy. 

At the end of the day, our parents are the only ones we have, and they’re humans just like us. Making the effort to understand their messiness and honor them will serve us best in any situation, just as the Bible says.  

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