Prepare Your Child or His Path? {Parenting is HARD}

Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:

Sometimes kids get a mean teacher or a class they don’t like or an inflexible deadline even though that child was “exhausted the night before.” We should not cushion every blow. This is life. Learning to deal with struggle and to develop responsibility is crucial. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day.” Jen Hatmaker

Struggling with preparing the path vs. preparing the child today. I know how hard this kiddo worked. I’d like to prepare the path. But. These moments develop character. I hope.

Hannah and I read For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, and when Hannah happened upon this quote, she shared it with me as one of her favorites.  Mom, I wish more parents prepared the child and not the path.  I want you to prepare me, not my path.

At the time, I thought of how I’d pulled strings for her – mostly using my job as a teacher at her school to get her into a certain class (or out of one) – along with the things I’ve paid for to make her life easier. I’d actually prepared the path quite a few times.

That began to shift when I divorced.  With only one parent in the home cleaning, cooking, and washing clothes, the kiddos naturally pick up the slack.  And when they began picking up my slack, I felt so guilty.  I wanted so badly to do it all and be it all.

Then, as I read For the Love,  I realized I’d been preparing the path and not the child.

My goal had been to make their lives as easy as I could.  Do everything for them.  Be everywhere with them.  I felt sorry for them.  No one wants divorced parents.   And, yes, these are ways we love. And certainly not all wrong.

But, if I kept doing it all, when would they learn?  When would they take ownership?

So. Yesterday.

I get this text from my son: (shared with his blessing)


He’d misplaced his Spanish project. And not just any project:  the project we’d worked on and stressed over (me, not him) on Sunday.  We’d drawn drafts and printed and colored…

I can NOT believe it. I want to lecture him on responsibility.  Let him know how mad I am.  Just, ugh!  How could he LOSE it?

But, I picture him sitting at school.  A straight-A student about to get a zero.  Devastated.  (He later tells me…it was all I could do to keep from crying, Mom, I was so disappointed in myself.)

So, I ask questions. I try to help via text.  I consider texting the teacher- a lady I know well who is the kindest, most gracious teacher in the world.

I am sure I can explain – other kids saw him this morning with the project – he definitely did it. My mind is working overtime. Then, a quiet voice.  I see Hannah sitting on the couch asking me to prepare her for the path.

I text Owen this…(although it about kills me)…

I am sorry, buddy, I won’t help this time…you’re on your own.  

We discuss the logistics of redoing it.  He says he won’t get a zero, but he will lose 20%.  I tell him to do his best and take what he earns.

We exchange love you’s and then I sit with the decision.

Lord, it’s so small, but let this be right.  I can’t keep saving them.  I have to let them stumble.  Is this how you feel when I mess up? You hate it.  You’re bummed.  But you love me and want to fix it.  But, if you keep fixing then I’ll never grow closer to you. I don’t like parenting. I never know what to do.  I want to give them the best life I can, but I feel like I am poking around in the dark. Please help Owen to see that I love him.  That he has to be responsible.  I won’t always be around to help him, to save him. Just booooo, Lord, help. 

I find the Jen Hatmaker quote.  Post on Facebook.  Remind myself this is right. Hope (secretly) someone will validate this decision by commenting on Facebook.  Sad, but true.

Then, this…

(Give grace to my errors. There were tears.)




These words…Thank u for the discipline and not doing everything for me.  I will thank u in the long run for all of it.  BEST MOM EVER AWARD GOES TO: Sarah Farish!

My little boy gets it.  He gets how much I love him. Not many are giving me the Best Mom Ever award, and they don’t need to because Owen Farish does and that’s enough.

Thank you, Lord.  Just thanks.  Thanks for this gift and thanks for discipline.  Help me to remember that I live for an audience of one – YOU.  And your love is enough.  If you did everything for me, where would I be?  Entitled and spoiled.  Not closer to your heart of humility and service. Best Father EVER award to you, God!

A little later Owen tells me that I do something else well:  And there is also something else.  U always make a bad situation not so bad anymore.  

And I cry for all the bad situations he has known. I recognize his resiliency and Jesus. Jesus. Hearing my prayers for my children, knowing that He can and will use “a bad situation” for good.

Yes, Jesus, you make a bad situation not so bad anymore.

And for it all, we give thanks.  In the words of Owen, we will keep asking Jesus to help us because HE IS THE BEST EVER!!!

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Much Love,


  1. Great job, Mama! Parenting is an awesome source of refinement.

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