Parents Can’t Fix Everything… And That’s Okay

Sickness has descended upon our family’s home and hung around like that one party guest who you wish would leave early but who stays until 2 A.M. We’ve been like a bunch of sickly domino pieces crashing down on one another, and the kids have had it particularly rough.

Which is, like, one of the lamest things for a parent.

There really aren’t many things as sad and pitiful as watching your child get sick. It is especially heartbreaking (and frustrating) when there isn’t much you can do to fix them.

You take them to the doctor, try all the medicines that you can, attempt to make them as comfortable as possible, and then wait for things to get better. It’s an agonizing process for parents.

A father holding his daughterFor me as a dad, it’s been difficult because I can’t fix it. And I like being able to fix it. The desire to make everything better for my wife and kids is one of my strongest and most irresistible urges. Not being able to accomplish that task and having to watch my kids be in pain? It’s awful.

The problem, though, is the temptation to then feel like it’s a reflection on you as a parent. As if somehow their contraction of the illness and their recovery from it was and is in your control. Maybe we can get past them getting sick since there are plenty of places it could have come from. But the healing process is all on us. At least it feels that way.

The same is often true for other areas of life and parenting. In a messy world, a lot can go wrong and impact us and our families. In those moments, in those trials, it can be incredibly difficult on us when we feel responsible for making everything better but, for a multitude of reasons, simply cannot. It can leave us feeling weak and ineffective or, worse than that, like failures.

Until we realize something important. Something that can free us from much of the anxiety that we heap on ourselves.

We can’t fix everything as parents… and that’s okay.

Which is not to say we can’t or shouldn’t even try. We should always try. We will always try. It’s in our blood. Realizing that we can’t fix everything doesn’t take away our desire to fix or the importance of that drive.

Instead, realizing that we can’t fix everything simply relieves us of guilt when fixes don’t come quickly… or easily. It’s a reminder that our success as parents isn’t tied to whether or not our children ever face challenges or trials (physical or otherwise), but is instead tied to how we walk through those times with them.

In a messy world, we aren’t always going to be able to protect our kids. It’s a hard truth. It isn’t easy to swallow. But we can, through caring for them and through living it out ourselves, teach our children what it looks like to persevere and forge ahead through the mess with faith, hope, and love.

That’s why it’s okay that we are not able to fix everything for our kids. Because they, just like us and all the generations before us, will face challenges that knock them down and seem insurmountable. And if we as their parents have showed them the way, their hearts will remember and turn to the only One who can overcome any obstacle or challenge we could ever face.

And that is a thing—a peace and a hope—more valuable than anything this world has to offer.