“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
My friend Kathy was finishing up her doctorate in child psychology when she found out she and her husband were expecting. They were ecstatic! Every night for months, she and her husband, both very highly educated people, sat up late devouring books on parenting and child development.
When little Zachary was born, they were so excited! But a few months in to the whole parenting thing, I got a call.
“Carol,” Kathy said exasperated. “These parenting books just don’t cover everything. What am I supposed to do?!”
I totally understood where Kathy was coming from. A few years earlier I’d been in the same place and made, as we all do, an amazing discovery—there is no prescription for parenting.
We can read and research, interview experts and compare parenting stories with friends, but unlike the ratio for infant formula, there’s no parenting formula. The older kids get, the more obvious that becomes and the harder parenting can get. Decisions like “when and how should I potty train?” turn into more complicated “How much screen time is too much?” and “Should my daughter really be hanging out with that neighbor girl?”
For me, more difficult parenting decisions came with an increased pressure of getting parenting “right”. Make that perfect. The stakes seemed so high. After all, I reasoned, if I made the wrong decision I could mess up my kid. Anyone who’s watched an episode of Dr. Phil knows that parents have the power to mess up their kids’ lives—big time.
So I tried harder to get the parenting thing right. I was forever asking myself, “Am I doing enough to be a good parent?” “Am I disciplining enough?” “Am I loving enough?” “Am I praying hard enough?” And if I am doing enough, am I doing it right?
Ever feel that way?
PERFECT PARENTING–A REALITY CHECK
At some point, we can start to parent like everything is up to us. In fact, there’s something prideful in the assumption that if we try hard enough, if we’re patient enough, if we read them the right books and listen enough and are caring enough…then our kids will turn out fine.
Truth is…we’re not that powerful.
Do those things matter? Sure they do. But we stagger under the pressure of this elusive goal of perfection. When in reality, we’re imperfect people who mess up, get impatient, say yes when we maybe should have said no, and don’t always know the right answers to tough questions.
I don’t think God expects perfect; I think he expects trust. Trust that he’s powerful in our weakness. Trust that HE is perfect and a master at taking our inadequate parenting and redeeming it for his glory. In that way our weakness points us to better parenting. Every day then becomes not a day of trying harder but resting in, relying on, and listening to what God says.