I am a terrible parent. Although I hate to say it, it’s true. I never intended to be an awful parent. I always thought I’d be the perfect mother. You know, my kids would never eat in the car, I wouldn’t let them have junk food, they would behave in public, I’d be an awesome disciplinarian, but I would also play with my kids and spend quality one-on-one time with them every day. Yeah, um, not so much. I’ve failed in every single one of those categories, plus a few more I hadn’t thought of before having children. My kids rarely brush their teeth in the mornings before they head off to school. My toddler ate McDonald’s french fries for lunch the other day. I’ve been known to put them in front of a movie so I can hole myself up in my room to write when I get an idea. My kids don’t listen to me the first time I ask them to do something because I don’t follow through the way I should. I lose my temper and get mad and yell at them. I don’t spend a lot of one-on-one time with any of them. I’m not as consistent about assigning chores as I ought to be. And I’m not nearly as good as I’d like to think I am about limiting their screen time (or my own).
At first I tried to give myself a break. I mean, I have five kids, you know? And with five kids you just can’t devote much individual time to each of them. There’s more clutter with more people in the house, and I’m busier with things like laundry and cooking than I would be with a smaller household. But then I found a blog of a woman who has eight children and manages to do these amazing activities with them and blog about it nearly every day. They were making hot cross buns and resurrection rolls together in their household while I made my kids fill their own Easter eggs with candy.
Nor is it just in the arena of quality time. I’m also terribly unreliable when it comes to family devotions. I asked a question on Facebook one day about what other families do for devotions, and I was put to shame. Some other families have devotions complete with candles, memory work, and hymns, while we struggle to get through our own hit-or-miss devotions that usually involve someone getting mad. Really, it just seems that in every area I’m failing in one way or the other.
Am I the only parent that feels this way? Do you ever feel like you’re completely failing your kids, or that other parents have it more together than you do? If you answered yes, good. You really understand what’s at stake here. Raising kids is a huge responsibility, an incredibly daunting task; one that doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Sure, there are all sorts of parenting books and blogs out there, but the methods and mindsets vary widely from one to the next. And there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to children. Each child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another.
If we’re honest, none of us is up to the task of raising children. We’re dreadfully unqualified to train human beings for life in this world. And it’s good for us to realize that, because if we wish to raise godly children, we can’t do it on our own. We need God’s help. And there’s no better way to ask for His help than to humble yourself before Him and admit you aren’t doing a very good job. Confess your shortcomings and ask Him for strength to improve in areas where you are weak. Trust that He will work through you despite your frailties, and that He is working in the lives of your children as well.
One of the most difficult things about raising children in this day and age is the constant access we have to technology. People put their best foot forward on social media, and if you’re comparing your own parenting to someone else’s highlight reel, then of course you’re going to fall short. If you read enough parenting blogs, you’re going to feel like a crummy parent because you never remember those anger management techniques in the heat of the moment. If you get on Pinterest too long, you’re going to start panicking that you aren’t stimulating your child’s creativity enough.
Everyone out there has an opinion on every aspect of parenting, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged when we perceive others are doing this parenting thing better than we are. But it hasn’t always been this way. Did Ma Ingalls read books on parenting? Certainly not. She was too busy teaching her girls how to sew and cook and keep house to have time for such nonsense. Parenting was just common sense, using one’s best judgment and instincts to deal with situations as they arose. We need to do the same. Quit comparing yourself to the mom of eight who blogs every day. Stop measuring your success by how well you follow the techniques in one of your parenting books. Don’t use this as an excuse not to try harder in areas where you need improvement, but afford yourself some grace here, just as God does.
Keep in mind that God gave your children to YOU.
You are the right parent for your kids, because God doesn’t make mistakes. Tell yourself that you’re doing a great job as a parent. Even if your kids don’t brush their teeth in the mornings.