There will be a time, perhaps several years, when I am infallible, invincible and completely inerrant…
At least, I will be these things in the eyes of my child. I have to be honest and say that I’m looking forward to this, because the last time I was all of these things was when I was a teenager, and that’s been a while.
Yes, they say that parents are the equivalent of superheroes from a child’s point of view, able to do anything at all, solve any problem, and speak words of truth at all times. Every word I speak will be completely true to my child. Everything I do will be great in the eyes of my child.
Those will be nice days, the days when I have someone around who is too innocent to know the truth about me. Those days will not last long enough. Because the fact is, one day, a day that I cannot see nor prevent, my son will discover the truth about me.
That I am a hypocrite.
And maybe you have not realized it…but your children will discover the same about you.
But don’t worry. It’s not all bad news. In becoming hypocrites, we become human.
I Want to Be Like Dad When I Grow Up
I think most of us as parents-to-be look forward to the days that we are superheroes. We enjoy and relish the days when our children believe in magical things and take everything we say at face value. We look forward to these things because it’s been so long since we believed in magical things.
We enjoy and anticipate the years of childhood gullibility and innocence, but I wonder how many of us are actually preparing for our little ones’ eyes to one day open wide and see us for who we are. What will happen when our children no longer see their teachers or their pastors or their siblings or their parents as immortal gods who walk the Earth and speak the truth at all times?
Yes, there will come a time when my child realizes that I believe a bunch of things…
But I don’t do them.
I say that I love my neighbor as myself. But do I really live that out?
I say that I follow Jesus, but most days, I’m stumbling.
The law I speak from my mouth, I often break in my heart.
There will be many years when my child may not like what I say, but he will at least accept it as truth. I will be able to hide behind this facade of moral infallibility. But then there will be a day when he realizes that what I say and what I do are often, actually two different things. That day of realization may be among the most transformative in a child’s life, and I think most of us are not prepared for it, and we are not preparing our children either.
Where Would Family Comedies Be Without Hypocritical Parents?
It’s funny, you know, how often Christians are accused of being hypocrites, because really we are all hypocrites. Being a hypocrite is a human condition, not just for churchy folks.
Come on now, let’s admit it. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
The great men who founded our country on lofty ideals. Hypocrites. They preached freedom and equality, but kept slaves. Or the great song writer who wrote all you need is love, but whose narcissism broke his relationships. Practically every great family comedy that has ever been on television has used the old trope of parental hypocrisy.
Every single one of us who say we believe in unconditional love are hypocrites, because when you get down to it, unconditional love is completely unbelievable, and completely unattainable in human hearts. All of us who say we should love our neighbors as ourselves, hypocrites.
Every single preacher who gives a message on Sunday is a hypocrite. At some time during the week, they will all fail to live up to the words they speak on Sunday.
We are all hypocrites, because we are all human. We think in ideals, believe lofty things about ourselves, but live in sin.
Am I Ready For My Son To Realize That I Am Human?
This is why we have to prepare our kids.
I know I’m not a dad yet, but every now and then, I pick up some little parenting philosophy that I tuck away for later.
Like, I cannot stand to see children acting up in public and Mom saying, “Mommy doesn’t like it when you do that.” Why? Because what Mommy just implied is that what she likes is the only basis for the law. And one day, the child will no longer care about what Mommy likes or doesn’t like.
There will come a day when my son realizes that I’m just human. The words that come out of my mouth do not always match my actions. My preferences are not canon law.
And that could just break my little man’s tender heart. It is a shock to realize that your parents are fragile human beings. But I can prepare my son for this revelation.
I can live out manly humility.
I can demonstrate masculine apologies.
I can love my son enough to tell him that I am a hypocrite. Because that admission is most honest, authentic, un-hypocritical thing we can do.
What do you think? When did your kids “discover” you were just a human and not a superhero?