Why perfect parenting misses the point

Lauren Ayers

I have read the books.  I have tried to parent the best that I can, but one of my little girls hasn’t fit the mold from day one.  She has a determined, strong-willed spirit that seems born to test me.

Loving to test her limits, she has provided me with many embarrassing moments. When she was just starting to crawl, we took her to the beach and as soon as we arrived, she took off toward the ocean. The waves came crashing on her little body, but she kept crawling. She was determined to get to where she wanted to go, and nothing could stop her.  

As a mom, it’s hard not to care what other people think. The fact my child always seems to be the one inviting attention hasn’t helped. Why can’t I just have a normal trip to Target?  It seems she saves her big moments for when we run into friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Any poor decision she makes left me blaming my failure as a parent.

Perfection Is Not the Point

My mind echoes with this notion that I am not a perfect parent. As women and moms, we too often set perfection as the gold standard. Our house should look perfect. Our dinners should be Pinterest perfect. Our clothing should be perfectly in style, and our children should be perfectly well behaved. Social media litters our minds with these perfect pictures of how our lives should be.  

I pray for my girls. I pray that they will be good listeners, well-behaved, and respect others. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to train a child up in the way he should go. I thought I was doing this in my quest for perfection. Praying for well-behaved, respectful children isn’t a bad prayer, but through loving a strong-willed child, I’ve learned that the best prayer I can pray is for my kids to love and depend on Jesus.  

Children Need a Savior Not Just Good Manners

Many times, it's not when we walk through our best moments that we learn our need for a Savior. Life will not always be easy, and I know I will witness much bigger challenges in my kids’ lives than a bad trip to Target.  

I pray that whatever paths my kids cross they learn their need for Jesus. My commitment is to teach them about His love for them (Deuteronomy 11:9). I want to train them diligently in His Word and show them grace when they fall short, the same way Jesus showed grace to me.

Focusing solely on good manners and a picture-perfect life will not teach my kids to desperately need a Savior, and my less-than-perfect parenting moments remind me that I desperately need one as well.

One day my strong-willed little girl will once again face the ocean. She will face the waves of life and want to keep going, but will realize that she can’t do it on her own.  My prayer is that she doesn’t crawl through them this time, but that she is able to stand because her strength comes from her ultimate Savior, Jesus Christ.

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