Compassion for the Broken Parent

Throughout history men and women have committed atrocities that make me question the vastness of evil in the human heart. Human trafficking, the Rwandan Genocide, American slavery, the Holocaust, infanticide, are only a small glimpse into the evil that persists in our world. It is easy to look on the victims with compassion. Then there are the perpetrators, the pimps, the Hutus, white Americans, Adolf Hitler, and parents; how do we look at them? While governments and politics differ, there are global crimes that are punishable by the means of any culture. Yes, consequences should be dispensed, but what about rehabilitation? Where does this evil come from? What allowed that evil to overtake you? Where can I look in your life story and say there, that is the start.

Most foster parent situations the children visit with their biological parents. It is awkward to engage with the parents. I am my kids parents. I love them even when I can’t stand them. I have sat in the ER with my sick child. I play with them. I feed them. I comfort them. I keep them safe. When they tell me they love me, it is validating. I am the one who wakes up when the baby cries. I am spit up on. I am change the nastiest diapers in an array of earth tones. I kiss cheeks. I reprimand. I cook. I clean. I love them.

But, they are not mine.

Most of the parents are my age (22), have more than one child, and are demonized. Parents whose children are in foster care face this myopic stigma. People assume the parents of children in foster care are lazy or bad parents. If only that were the simple case. The parents of the children I work with are just as diverse as the children. Some of the parents use drugs. Most are children of the foster care system themselves. Some have mental disorders and just don’t have the support (governmental or familial) to be mentally stable. Some abuse and have been abused. Some are the product of unfortunate and painful events. All their stories are so different. Yes, it makes their children more difficult to deal with. My kids have issues that I will never have. My kids have survived physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, persistent danger, and drug problems. But their parents are broken people simple breaking their children. Honestly, how can you expect one to nurture a child into wholeness, when they themselves are crumbling to pieces?

I want the best for my kids and optimally, I think I am better than their parents, but it doesn’t mean that their parents are evil people.

The misconception of compassion is that compassion means the taking away consequences. I would rebut. Compassion for the oppressor is empathy. I don’t know what is like to kill a man. I don’t agree with it and find it deplorable, but there is is a person behind a murderer. There is shattered convoluted man behind a rapist. There is an orphan behind all my children’s parents. I love my children. I do not think their parents should have them, but I will have compassion for them. They are adult children who are now childless. Their children are not theirs anymore. Whether or not in the future they clean up their act them may never see their child again. They will live with the knowledge that they are inadequate parents. They have hurt there children, and don’t deserve to have them, but they also do not deserve my condemnation. Mostly, because they have their own.

God please help my children’s biological parents. First meet them at the point of their need. God, these men and women have been criminalized, demonized, abused, stereotyped, and in need. God restore them for Your glory. Let them know they are loved by God and called completely into Your kingdom. I pray that this love for You, will drive them to be better parents. God allow broken generations and sorrow-filled legacies end with them. Let their lives resonate redemption, grace, freedom, forgiveness, and restoration. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Lead us all back to the cross.

Amen.

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