Great Kids Have Parents Who Seem To Do This Well

Donald Miller

I’ve noticed something. Kids with parents who are open and honest about their faults seem to do better in life.

I’ve been working on some material for Father’s Day this week. Perhaps a little early, but it’s had me thinking about the many great dads I’ve seen in the world. And I’ve seen plenty. My friend Paul Young (who wrote The Shack and Crossroads) has an unbelievable family of terrific kids (now adults). My dear friend John MacMurray back in Oregon is one of the greatest dads I’ve seen. I’m talking about kids who are well adjusted, high functioning, easy to talk to and seem to have nothing to prove.

Secretly (until now), I’ve noticed a common theme amongst well-adjusted kids. The theme seems to be this: Great kids come from families in which parents are real about their shortcomings. They come from families who live and believe in grace.

I’ve also noticed the opposite. Many of my friends who’ve confessed to me they’ve had problems in life come from families in which parents (and mostly the Dad, honestly) have a hard time admitting they’re wrong. Often they come from religious families in which the parents felt they had to play a role model of perfection.

Of course, there are many reasons kids struggle in life. But truthfully I’m not talking about kids. I’m talking about adults. People in their thirties and forties who come from grace-oriented families with parents who do not control with guilt and shame do better.

Well-adjusted people come from families who had parents who were honest about their mistakes and shortcomings, parents who were even humbly apologetic. Imagine having a dad who’d be willing to say something like, “You know, you get your temper from me. It’s one of the terrible things I’ve handed you. I’m so sorry about that. Here’s how I’ve learned to handle it. Let me know if you need help. I love you so much. Would hate for you to have to feel any pain on account of me.”

*Photo by Oliv, Creative Commons

If you sit down with Paul Young or John MacMurray, they have absolutely no problem admitting their faults. None. And this gives you a sense of comfort as you talk to them because you realize that it’s okay to be human. In fact, you can really connect with these guys because they’re vulnerable and honest and open. And it seems like they trust God to actually forgive them and that means maybe God has forgiven me too.

On the other hand, there are many kids who wander through the world lost. And often, secretly (until now), I’ve noticed their fathers are men who are constantly spinning the truth to make themselves look good. If anything negative happens in their families, they blame it on some other factor. They never admit their mistakes. They are constantly trying to “set an example” by hiding their true humanity. Kids who grow up in homes like this do not feel permission to be human or flawed and don’t trust that God will ever forgive them. Can you imagine living in such pain?

So much modern research supports the idea that it’s in morality, strength, courage AND VULNERABILITY that health flourishes.

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**The whole idea makes me wonder how applicable this paradigm shift is for pastors and church leaders. Do we trust our congregations would be more healthy if we modeled God’s grace by freely admitting our weaknesses?

How honest are you being with the people around you? Do you fear being human? Do your kids fear being human?

Let’s pass along an example that God is forgiving, and so are we. Let’s say to the world it’s perfectly okay to be perfectly human.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has been telling his story for more than a decade, now he wants to help you tell yours. He’s helped over 1,000 companies clarify their message through the StoryBrand Workshops. For an introduction to what he’s doing now, check out the 5 Minute Marketing Makeover.