No matter how great a parent you are, how many books you read on the subject of parenting, how many conferences you attend, and how much you pour into your child’s life, there is no recipe for perfect parenting.
There are amazing, godly couples who have a child in prison. Pastors have children who are lukewarm toward God or outright agnostic. Did they do something wrong in how they parented? Rather than striving to be a “perfect” parent, how about striving to be a godly parent—and leave the outcome to the One who made your tween/teen.
There will always be people whose tweens/teens are more obedient, more compliant, more joyful, and more “perfect” than ours. Our job is to be faithful to the task we have been given: to raise the tween or teen under our roof as well as we can, and trust God with the outcome. There is only so much influence a parent can have; we are not sovereign over our tweens/teens—only God is.
In her article “The Myth of the Perfect Parent” Leslie Leyland Fields wrote, “It is faith rather than formula, grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts, and what, by God’s grace, our children grow up to become.”
The quest for perfection goes back to the beginning of time. We want to be everything to everyone—the perfect friend, the perfect wife or husband, the perfect employee, and yes, the perfect parent. Of course, it’s normal to desire to be loved and to belong, but striving for perfection is a goal that will never be met.
When we hold unattainable expectations about our children, we are bound to be let down and feel like we have failed. If you struggle with this feeling, consider spending some time reflecting on what your expectations are for yourself as a parent. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Am I expecting to never make mistakes? Does this line up with God’s Word? (See Romans 3:23)
• Are my expectations realistic?
• How can I revise my expectations of myself?
The apostle Paul warned Jesus’ disciples about trying to “think more of oneself” than is necessary. He said, “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind” (Romans 12:3). Paul encouraged excellence, but not perfection.
Consider what Gigi Graham Tchividjian said about perfectionism:
“We don’t have to be perfect to be a blessing. We are asked only to be real, trusting in His perfection to cover our imperfection, knowing that one day we will finally be all that Christ saved us for and wants us to be.”
Meditate on God’s view of what He expects of you. Ask Him to help you set realistic expectations of yourself as a parent, and to rest in the fact that at the end of the day, you have done enough. Not only that, you are enough. Parenting will be a lot more fun when you let the only One who is perfect have a bit more control!
Raising tweens/teens is not easy, and without realizing it, we can become swept up in trying to control how they turn out. I am praying for you as you consider this topic this month, that God will release you from trying to be more than what He expects you to be, and that you will trust in His perfection.
My encouragement is that you will embrace this idea as you press on in your parenting. God does not require you to be flawless . . . only faithful.
I am here to help and am always praying.
Click here to check out this week’s online parenting class.