Parenting Without Perfectionism

>Parenting Without Perfectionism

Submitted by Jennifer Power

I have good intentions to be a parent who does it all right, does it all well, and smiles through it all.

Sometimes, I think it is unfortunate that I know so much about how to be a good parent.

I know a lot about what is good for kids. I know a lot about proper nutrition, the importance of minimizing screen time and maximizing active times. I know how to stay calm when they get upset, how to avoid power struggles, and how to set healthy parameters for kids.

I know how to properly install a car seat, baby proof an area, and pack an activity and snack bag for trips in the van. I know about the importance of avoiding toxins, pesticides, and unnatural foods and products.

My training, reading, Pinterest browsing, blog post reading, college coursework, and experiences with kids and teens has given me a lot of good information and even some pretty practical skill sets. I know how to prepare, shop, cook, and prepare healthy foods. I know how to use coupons and sales to get good deals on foods we already buy and save money for our family. I know how to exercise with my husband and kids. I know how to de-clutter and clean a house. I can come up with organizational systems.

I am comfortable praying with my kids and reading and telling them Bible stories and stories about my own experiences with God. I am comfortable answering complicated questions about faith.

I know consistency is key with kids. I know it is important to create a loving environment for kids where they feel safe, loved, cared for, and held accountable.

I can suggest a technique for almost any behavioral problem one might encounter.

I know the importance of personal quiet times, setting boundaries, scheduling date times with my husband, having trustworthy friends, and spending time with extended family.

I honestly know quite a bit about parenting and balance in family life; however, I have often found this knowledge to be burdensome rather than helpful. Despite my knowledge, I do not regularly do all those good things I know I should do and do not always avoid the things I should not do.

In my journey as a parent, I have so often felt inadequate. When I measure what I know with what I actually do on a day by day or week by week basis, I come up painfully short. I just do not have enough time and energy to be the perfect parent who does it all, does it all well, and keeps on a calm smile.

Too many times, I have concluded that I am just not a good parent. Maybe you can fill in this blank because you have played this record over in your head too:

“A good parent just would not____________” or “A good parent would always____________, so obviously, I am not a good parent.”

Maybe it is time we redefine what it means to be a good parent.

For me, this means balancing doing my best with cutting myself some slack – giving myself the same grace Jesus Christ has already given to me. Not cheap grace that says I can do whatever I want, but real grace which says in Christ, I am enough.

Summer is a great time for families to be together and make memories. My daughter is going to Kindergarten next year. She is growing up so fast, and I do not want to miss out on spending time with her.

For this reason, this summer, being a good parent means I will prioritize spending time with my family. It doesn’t have to be picture-perfect time. Maybe some days it means going out and doing something fun like going to Six Flags for the day or exploring a new children’s museum or a new park or outdoor destination. But maybe some days it means grabbing some snacks, cuddling up on the couch, and watching some TV together because we are all too exhausted for much else.

It means, for me, that I will try not to miss out on the little opportunities to show my girls how much I love them and to build little rituals they can look back on with joy. For example, I love to sing my girls to sleep, rub their backs, and pray with them at night. I know I could do better about reading more Bible stories, getting into a better bedtime routine, etc., but sometimes I think I really just need to focus on what I am doing well and let up a bit on everything I know I need to do better. I can too quickly get buried under my list of self-improvements and imperfections. Maybe you can relate.

I was reading Isaiah 40 yesterday when I came across verse 11. I happened to be reading in the International Children’s Bible version on Bible Gateway as I sometimes use this version when preparing lessons for children:

The Lord takes care of his people like a shepherd.
He gathers the people like lambs in his arms.
He carries them close to him.
He gently leads the mothers of the lambs.

This verse spoke to me as I read it. I can be so hard on myself as a mother (and as I person) and can be so quick to forget God’s grace for me. When perfectionism leaves me feeling like I am not enough and matter very little, it is a grace of love from God to be reminded of God’s care for His people and of His gentle care for me particularly, as a mother of two of His precious small children. When I read this verse, I cannot be left feeling my sincere faith matters little to my girls or that I am not good enough as a parent.

I hope for you that you find encouragement in knowing God cares for you and is leading you. I hope you find comfort in knowing God is in control and loves you and your children more than you can fathom. I hope you enjoy your time with your kids this summer and let go of the need to get it all right. Together, let’s decide to rely on God – to look to Him and trust Him in all matters of our lives, but especially in those matters involving the little ones God has entrusted to our care. Believe that, as God has called us to this amazing parenting journey, He will supply what we need as we look to Him.

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