When did we all decide that we have to be perfect parents? I was sitting quietly, a rare thing indeed, the other day and pondering why I feel the need to be a perfect parent. I don’t mean I shouldn’t try hard to be a parent, but I can never be perfect and yet I expect myself to be. I think we as parents put way too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We have this idea that if we do everything right our kids will turn out wonderfully. That isn’t always the case, I know of many parents who did a bang up job of being parents yet they have messed up kids and the opposite is also true. There are children who are doing really well and yet have terrible parents.
I was thinking about “back in the old days”, like the colonial period. I really like that time period and I am just crazy enough to think that it would have been cool to live back then. I am sure that would last maybe a day, when I had to do laundry by hand outside in the cold or kill my own dinner. But I daydream about what it would have been like to live then. I was thinking about the parents back then. They usually had a lot more children than most of us today do and yet I would bet you they didn’t worry about being perfect parents. One reason, time. They didn’t have time to worry about such things. There wasn’t time to worry about whether or not to get little Johnny a cell phone or not, or whether to let Suzie date yet. People didn’t have time to worry about such things, they were just worried about survival. I think maybe we have too much time on our hands these days and that brings about worry.
I have been worried lately about the amount of time I get to spend with my oldest son, Samuel. He, unlike the others, is at school most of the day and then when he comes home there is homework, dinner, baths and bed. I don’t really get to spend much time with him except on the weekends and then it seems the younger ones take the majority of that time. He is turning 8 soon and I can’t believe our parenting journey with him is almost halfway over. Time just slips away when you are not looking. I worry about how my lack of time is effecting him. I am sure that people in the old days didn’t even think about such things. And, for the most part, their kids turned out way better than ours do today. There are many reason for that, but I think that one thing that messes up our parenting is that we spend way too much time thinking about it. There are millions of books sold each year on the subject of parenting and I have read most of them. In fact, Glenn and I lead a small group on parenting. I do think it’s a worthwhile subject, obviously, but sometimes we can get too caught up in doing things just right that we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. You have to learn, as a parent, that there are things worth trying to do your best job at and other things not worth even bothering with. I have decided that one of the things not worth bothering with is my oldest son wearing dress shoes to church. We have battled over this issue, but I decided I can either force him to wear the shoes and he is uncomfortable and grows to hate church because of it, or I can let him wear more comfortable shoes. Does it really matter? That is a very personal question for each parent, but I have decided that that issue does not really matter to us. Each parent has to think about what things are really important to them and those things will change in each family. The point is that you cannot make issues out of everything or you will wear yourself out.
Worrying about the future does not help you make any progress. It’s like rocking in a rocking chair, you are expending energy but not going anywhere. I can worry all day about things in the future, even important things that might be worth worrying about, but it will not change those things. Joshua, my third son, is about to turn 2 years old. He isn’t talking yet. I have spent a lot of time worrying about that and if he will ever talk, but it has not changed him talking at all. It does affect me though, negatively. I cannot change Joshua, he is getting speech therapy and we are hopeful that someday soon he will talk, but until then I have to leave it in God’s hands.
I feel like there are a lot of parents out there who need to put less pressure on themselves about parenting and they would be a lot happier. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so don’t worry yourself so much about being one. Do your very best as a parent, but if you mess up, as we all do, remember that there is always tomorrow and allow God to forgive you and move on.