I have made the mistake of believing that there is some sort of parenting “ideal” that I am supposed to try to live up to, that all of us who are parents should be trying to imitate. I imagine a golden statue with the label “Perfect Parent” under it—a frozen image of the ultimate standard of good parenting. And I am not even close.
You can read all those parenting magazines at the pediatrician’s office, and they all seem to present a similar model for what the “Perfect Parent” is. It has something to do with not yelling at your kids, not using corporal punishment, not letting them watch television, and not feeding them sugar or non-organic food. Yeah, I’m not winning that award.
But I suddenly realized that this is yet another lie that the devil whispers to our minds and that our culture perpetuates. Because there really is no one ideal parenting model that we’re all supposed to strive for. We were each created uniquely and were each given different gifts and personalities and weaknesses. And all those things work together to make us the right parent for our own children.
Now I don’t say that those things make us the “Perfect Parent” for our kids. Because none of us is the “Perfect Parent.” And yes, I think there is a perfect standard that we can be working toward. But that standard doesn’t look anything the same for you as it does for me. It’s completely different for each of us. And the only way to discover what your unique parenting style is supposed to look like is to seek God’s guidance moment by moment—to ask His input on how you should relate to your kids today, this week, during this vacation, during the hour after school, during your bedtime ritual (or lack of ritual), during dinner, breakfast, soccer practice, tutoring, etc.
I’m trying to let the Holy Spirit, rather than some arbitrary standard of “Perfect Parenting,” guide the way I love and relate to my children. When I remember to do this, it is really, wonderfully freeing. I still have a long way to go. But that’s okay, too.
“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” -Jill Churchill
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” –Romans 12:1-2, The Message