Everybody remembers “that mom” or “that dad” from high school. That’s the parent that would buy the alcohol, rent the movie, or simply not ask any question of their kid. At the time, I think all of us thought that was the “cool” parent and perhaps even wished our relationship with our parents were more like theirs.
That kid’s mom and dad were more like their friend than their parent.
But part of us, even as kids I think, looked at this situation and felt something uneasy about it. Though we might not have articulated this at the time, we implicitly sensed that an adult’s job isn’t to be their child’s friend – it’s to be their parent.
We know that. But still – isn’t there something inside of you, way down deep, that wants to be their friend? That wants your kid, above all other things, to like you? There is for me. But the gospel frees us from that need.
It frees us from that need because the gospel reminds us that we don’t really need any approval from any man. Or woman.
Or child, for that matter. In the gospel we have the approval of God in Christ.
That approval arms us for the hard road of parenting. It frees us to do the difficult work of discipline. It propels us to choose what is best rather than what is convenient, easy, or comfortable for our children, even if those choices make them not like us in the moment.
Because of the gospel, I don’t have to be friends with my children. I can instead be their father.