I remember as a child, my mom and grandmother using the old saying, “birds of a feather flock together”; I always thought that it was not always the truth though. As I got older, I did start to notice that people do tend to, more times than not, to surround themselves with people more like them; and in some cases people like the person they wish to be (which in my eyes is a great thing, if you are looking to improve yourself).
In some cases, some people are able to be around people who are not like them in what may be a less favorable aspect, because they realize that they may be able to be a positive impact on them. In other cases, people grow up together and start to see others develop around them and although growing up in the same or similar circumstances, they just become different types of people.
I say all this to pose the question – Are you able to be a friend to someone who is a bad parent?
I guess we first have to define what actually determines or categorizes someone as a bad parent – which might I add is very subjective.
When many people think of bad parenting, the first thing that comes to mind is abuse. But bad parenting is far more than just physically or mentally abusing children. Let me also go on the record saying that we all have our “bad parent moments” and this is totally normal.
But to me, bad parenting includes:
1. Ignoring your child
2. Not supporting the differences and development
3. Having them in a unhealthy environment
- Unhealthy relationships
- Unclean environment
And while not limited to these items, I feel them to be at the top of my list.
Now I have my struggles with parenting as I have mentioned time and time again. I think we all have that internal “am I doing it right” barometer waving at us from time to time. But in reality, there are some people who really don’t have an interest in investing what it takes in their children to grow them into healthy, productive grownups; these are the people I am referring to.
Can you actively maintain a friendship with someone who neglects their child and does not make an effort to be the best parent that they can be to them? Someone who prioritizes other things in life over their children and don’t take full responsibility for the blessing that God has bestowed upon them?
I have been blessed with great people around me who I feel to be great parents; people that I have been able to learn a lot from and ultimately aid me in becoming a better parent. I have been acquaintances with people that were not the kind of parent that I want to be around and consequently the relationship normally just fades. Because parenting is more a struggle for me, at times, I find that I gravitate more toward people that are awesome parents to be better at it myself.
Additionally, children of “bad parents” are usually reflective of that, and as I mentioned before I have become more in tuned with the influences that I allow. I find myself being watchful of the behaviors of other children because my daughter is so easily affected and influenced, which tends to make me draw back from people I see with consistent bad parenting habits.
The reality is that everyone needs someone, especially in areas that they struggle; whether they fess up to it or not. When we struggle, the greatest gift is to have someone to help us grow or mentor us into our better self in that area.
Parenting has been one of the main areas that I have had to call on God to give me the strength and ability to fight through being better. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15(NLT) states:
14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
This provides for me comfort in knowing that God hears my prayers for parenting and that he is able to redirect me where I am going wrong ; seeking him goes a long way.
I further find resolve in Matthew 18:20, which states:
(GNT) 20 For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.
This is again is why I seek to be around people who are not only great parents, but who are also true believers and followers of Christ. They help me to become so much better in this area.
One Sunday, at an impromptu after church dinner invitation, we were over a friend’s home with some others and in normal fashion, the ladies were gathered around the kitchen and dining area and the men were in the “mancave”. Somehow we got to talking about parenting and our struggles and experiences.
One of the ladies has a daughter who is now a teenager and has seen her share of the obstacles parenting presents. For some reason I just felt comfortable enough to talk to her about it. We sat, we spoke, we laughed, we cried and then we prayed. She stood up and prayed for me and my daughter; an intentional prayer, a specific prayer, a very “felt it in depths of my soul” kind of prayer. I just remember leaving there feeling so blessed for the encounter.
Now fast forward, not only did that prayer go to God on my behalf, but it also created another form of accountability. Since that day, every time that I see this lady, she asks me about things with me and my daughter and reminds me of our conversation and the power of prayer – accountability and covering happens in each exchange; a true blessing.
I am thankful for that day, and the people that God has placed and is continually placing around me. I hope that one day I am able to be that someone for someone else. I am confident that he is building me up in my parenting, which is no easy feat. The reality is that in order for bad parents to be better parents they need good parents around them to show them how it is done. Someone has to be a friend to a bad parent. Can it be you?
- Is overthinking parenting such a bad thing? (overthoughtchild.wordpress.com)
- All Parents Suck (Sometimes) (tinystepsmommy.com)