I am noticing more and more how so many young parents don’t believe enough in their extraordinary parenting skills. I want to encourage each one of you that you have the ability to parent each of your children well. Yes, we all can do with advice and tips in our parenting and it’s wonderful to have people in our lives who are further along the journey to learn from; however, I want to remind you, that no one knows your child like you do. You have been given the most precious and powerful opportunity that can ever be given to anyone. You have been given the privilege to nurture another human being to their full potential. What an honour.
I want to remind you, or in some cases tell you, that you CAN do this and you CAN do this well. None of us are perfect parents. However so many are looking for perfection when parenting. As for the older parents in your life who may be coming alongside you, we are simply parents/people who have learned from others and our successes and mistakes.
Never underestimate the internal instincts that you have. They are placed there naturally giving you insight into what your child needs. Also, as an additional challenge, remember that what works for one may not work for the other. Isn’t that exciting, interesting and frustrating! Spend time watching, listening and learning but then put it all through your ‘parent filter’ and see what you want to use and what you know won’t work. The things that won’t work, just let them be and leave them for now.
Personally, I believe that God has chosen you to be your child’s parent. Why? Because in His wisdom, He knows He has given you the ability to parent that child well. Perfection can seem to be a great thing to aspire to especially in our parenting. Perfection, however, usually leads to a need to be in control AT ALL TIMES. And, if you’ve parented for more than 5 minutes in your life, you know that being in control doesn’t always happen.
As an example of this, let’s look at our family. This week, Rob and I had the privilege of becoming grandparents to a gorgeous little boy. His birth went just as planned; then complications set in for our beautiful Daughter in Love – she is our son, Daniel’s wife. It isn’t easy watching your child and his wife go through trauma during the birth of their first child or any child for that matter. For Rob and I, it was a privilege to see how they walked through that journey to victory. It’s not perfection and yet it is because of the strength it created in them and the way they handled it all was wonderful.
We had no control over this situation, as much as we would have loved the complication not to have happened, it did.
Following that trauma, one of our grandsons who is just 2-years-old fractured his little arm while being over-loved by his big brother. Again, the parents had no control over this outcome; you can’t be mad at the brother who was just trying to help his little brother. Yes, the big brother has been taught how to pick his little brother up. Yes, his Mum and Dad are very responsible parents. Life just happens and stuff will happen and it’s in these moments that we get to learn, we get to add to our library of knowledge and wisdom.
In this situation, what looks like imperfection is being turned into perfection, by the way, their mother is showing both of the boys unconditional love.
The older one is not being shamed and blamed; rather, he is being taught how when we make genuine mistakes others can be hurt but because it wasn’t done deliberately he doesn’t have to feel bad or guilty, he can just learn from this. The younger one is learning unconditional love from his mum as she cares for him and showing him he doesn’t have to be angry with his brother because it was just an accident. And, as can be the case, all of this is happening while Daddy is overseas on a business trip which isn’t perfection. My young daughter in love, Leanne, is handling it in such a way that it is bringing so much learning for life out of this for these two boys that will help define what kind of men they grow into.
When we look for perfection in ourselves as parents, we put pressure on our children to be perfect because we measure our perfection by their behaviour and outcomes. This is debilitating for our children and ourselves. Neither of us will ever match up.
We need to create opportunities for taking ourselves and our children more light-heartedly. There is just far too much pressure on parents to have it all together all of the time. I believe one of the most empowering things you can do for your children is to show them you are not living under the pressure of the expectations of other people.
The desire for perfection comes from us trying to impress others, trying to measure up, trying to prove our worth. Your worth has nothing to do with others expectations; it has only to do with the fact we are all made in the image of God by God. As you show your children first hand how to honour and respect others opinions but not live to measure up to others expectations, you will empower them to live a life of freedom. A life where they can learn from others without losing who they are by trying to be perfect and measure up.
Give yourself this freedom, listen and learn, go out of your way to learn more parenting skills but never devalue your own instincts and judgement. Go with your gut feeling. Relax and for goodness sake enjoy you parenting, have a sense of humour about the mistakes you and your children make. Forgive yourself and forgive them as soon as possible. Teach them how to recognise that mistakes are made and they can overcome them. Don’t be the judge and jury love them and yourself regardless.
Perfectionism is all too hard. Don’t do it. When things go wrong, believe in your ability and believe in your child. You are much more capable than you think and children are much more forgiving of parents than you think. Remember, none of us gets it just right all the time, it’s the over all that counts and if you are doing your best you are doing great.