I have long wanted to be the perfect parent.
When my children were born, I wanted them to come with a user’s manual. Instructions would have been nice. Especially after they could talk.
I wanted to parent my daughters well. Perfectly, actually. I assumed that if I encouraged and disciplined exactly the right way, I would produce perfect children. It made sense to me. I just needed to find the right formula.
I read and listened to Growing Kids God’s Way faithfully to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I tried to model grace and instill obedience. But sometimes my children disobeyed and said things that would have set James Dobson’s hair on end. And sometimes I said and did things that would have done the same.
The harder I tried to be the perfect parent, the more I failed.
I started family devotions with great excitement but became easily discouraged if they were poorly received. I nagged when I should have listened and was lenient when I should have been consistent. I compared myself to friends and even strangers. They all seemed to parent better. More consistently. More graciously.
Somehow I felt my children were walking billboards, advertising my competence as a parent. And a person.
As a result, they needed to make me look good. And often they did. But in the moments when I wanted to be respected most, my children performed the worst. Screaming when I said “no,” challenging my authority, eye rolling in defiance.
I rarely responded well and usually left those encounters feeling humbled and defeated.
God, in His wisdom, knew that was the best outcome for me.
Before I had children, I thought I was patient and easygoing. Focused on others. Not easily ruffled. But parenting has exposed my weaknesses and sin as I struggle with people who live and breathe in the space that was once reserved just for me. They have needs that must be met, sin that needs sanctification, and character that requires training.
And under that daily scrutiny, my real character is revealed. I am impatient. Irritable. Self-focused.
I get impatient with minor annoyances. Irritable when things don’t go my way. Self-focused about looking good.
These responses have revealed what’s in my heart. Idols, like respect, that I unknowingly worship. Good desires for obedience and order that have become demands. Sins I need to confess and bring to the cross.
For years I explained away my sin. It was my children’s fault, not mine. But God has shown me that my response is as important to deal with as their offense. My sin shouldn’t be ignored. God is bringing it to light for my good.
I am the one whom God is training through parenting. Continue Reading