How To Judge a Parent


Do you know which truth about parenting used to trouble me most?

That even when parents do everything “right,” sometimes their kids still turn out “wrong.”

I’m sure you’ve seen it too: Great kids who come from troubled homes, or troubled kids who come from great homes.

My friend Bev once told me, “Parents get (and take) far too much credit when their kids turn out well, and far too much blame when they don’t.”

I really like that.

But on the other hand, does that mean it doesn’t matter what kind of parent I am? Shouldn’t I feel some sense of accountability for how I raise my kids?

I love the way Kirk Martin resolved this dilemma for me at one of the Celebrate Calm seminars I attended last year.

He explained that as parents we aren’t judged by our kids’ behavior, but by our own. Think about this: Is God, our Heavenly Father, judged by how His kids turn out? Of course not. He is a perfect Father. But just look at how messed up His kids are. Neither are we judged by how our kids turn out.

But as parents we will be judged the same way God is: By our character and behavior.

That is still a heavy weight to bear. The fact that I will stand before God one day and answer for how I parented keeps my heart and actions in check.

But it makes a lot more sense to me that I will be judged on what I could control (my choices between sacrifice vs. selfishness, discipline vs. laziness, etc.) versus what I could not control (my kids’ behavior.)

What do you think? Has anyone else wrestled with this tension? What answers have you found? Do you agree with Martin?

3 thoughts on “How To Judge a Parent

  1. I think being judged for my character instead of my kids decisions is good news but not the best news because frankly, i just don't feel that much in control of my character most days. The older I am the less in control I feel of my growth and how fast it happens. I'm not all the way through it yet but I am REALLY liking Dan Allenders book called “How Children Raise Parents.” I love that his focus is on being RESPONSIVE to the Lord as our kids surface our own character issues and fallenness just by being kids and being the unique kids that they are. As we grow WITH them they will be blessed.

    I also love that he talks about two main questions kids are asking (Am I loved? Can I get my own way?) and how important it is to be showing love but not that they can have their own. That's been a simple, though not easy, principle to help me think about my days. I think you'd enjoy the book Steph. Let me know if you check it out and what your thoughts are.
    ~Amy Au


  2. Amy, thanks so much for your thoughts. I identify with what (I think) you’re saying. Because when I think about being judged by my character, my first thought is, “Oh no! I’m undone!” Because I know the sin that lurks in my heart (and I also know that I don’t even know the half of the sin that lurks in my heart). But the Word is clear that even as believers we will be judged for how we lived our lives on Earth, including how we parented. Thinking about that is just one more reason to throw myself at the feet of Jesus and cling to His mercy, because without Him there is no hope of reward, only “suffering loss.” (1 Cor 3:15) I don’t fully understand it, but somehow there is a combination of us being responsible for our own lives, yet at the same time us being fully dependent on God to accomplish any growth, any change, any good in and through our lives, as you wrote, in His own time and way. As Paul writes: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

    I’m definitely going to have to check out the Allender book! I remember Tracie posted a quote from it last year on her blog, and I have gone to it often since reading it: “Parenting is an invitation to suffering because no one really knows what to do… Perhaps the greatest task of parenting is humbly staying involved even when we don't have a clue what to do.” This is so often how I feel…I was encouraged to know that someone who writes books feels this way too! 🙂

    And by the way…for whatever it’s worth: I think you’re a great mom!


  3. A friend recently shared with me something she'd “learned” in marriage counseling about anger and it has helped me recently in parenting. The general concept is that anger is an emotion that has a cause; embarrasment, hurt, selfishness, etc. When you become angry with someone you should “check” the cause out. Does your anger come from a self reason or are you hurting for the other person. For what ever reason I find this a helpful parenting technique. When I am trying to “parent” my child am I doing it due to a reflection on me; so they don't embarrass me, to give me something to brag about? Or am I doing it so they grow to be a reflection of God? I have found if I examine my “hurt” closely enough to determine if I am hurt over thier misbehavior due to it's effects on me, then I become the important factor. If I am hurt because I see the misbehavior seperating my child from his Christ then not only is it calming to my spirit I have an arsonal of direction in my correction of the misbehavior; prayer, scripture, community…


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