Monday, April 11, 2011

Perfect Parenting = Perfect Results?

Some of Isaac's newer catch phrases include,
"Stop dat!"
"Go away!"
"I don't want to!"
"No, Siyas, dat's mine!"
Endearing, really.
Last Sunday morning before we left for church, he dramatically threw himself on the floor and screamed, "Ow! Stop dat! Dat hurts!" while I wet down his hair to try to somewhat tame his wild, bed-head mane. I assured him that, in fact, it did NOT hurt and he only screamed all the louder, "Yes! It does!" When I told him I was done, he popped right up and smiled and ran to meet his daddy so he could get in the car for church. And I stood there shaking my head in defeat... I should have done something more. Talked, spanked, time out-ed, I don't know, but SOMETHING! Instead I thought, "Well, now he looks somewhat presentable and do I really want to discipline him and cause a meltdown five minutes before we leave for church? No. I'm just going to let it be." My parenting and reasoning at it's finest. So he went without consequences and sang us songs and talked to his Aunt Leah from the back seat all the way to church with wet hair slicked down... and we walked into church with a happy camper.

Some days, I don't feel like I parent well. Sometimes I even feel like MOST days I don't parent well. I'm too busy, distracted, tired, unwilling to deal with the consequences, etc. to do the job the way I should. The truth is, I'm just too downright sinful to get this thing right all the time. It's easy for me to chastise myself and try to pull myself up by the bootstraps and do better so I don't "screw my kids up." But God's been teaching me something.

I was reading a book a while back called A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio (which is good, but dry...). Anyway, he ends his book with a section on parenting. He talks about God's method of disciplining and teaching his children. As I read it, I caught myself thinking, "Yes, but he's God, so he does all this perfectly. If I were perfect, then maybe Isaac would do what he is supposed to do." Then it hit me! NO HE WOULDN'T! God is my perfect Father and I am SO FAR from obeying him perfectly, it's shameful! For the first time I think I admitted that Isaac's sin nature and personality actually had something to do with how he turns out. OF COURSE, I have a huge role to play and OF COURSE, I'm held accountable for how I do this, but no matter how well I do it, I do not control how my children turn out. The recurring theme in my life lately has been pride, pride and more pride. I really have a hard time swallowing the fact that I cannot guarantee that my boys will grow up to be fine, upstanding citizens and more importantly, followers of Jesus Christ. When I say, really hard time, I mean, REALLY. HARD. TIME. It's NOT okay with me... for their sake or mine.

Which leads to another new theme in my life recently. Trust. Not so much trusting people here on earth, but trusting God. Let me explain. I would NEVER say that God is not trustworthy. Ever. But I LIVE like he is all the time. I am so self-sufficient. I try to figure it out on my own and try to guarantee the results I want. I have a hard time letting go and admitting that MY "perfect plan" might not be GOD's perfect plan. I definitely see this in my parenting. I shudder at the thought of rebellious children who don't love Jesus with all their heart and so I'm strict with my kids and try to control their environment to the point that there's no room for any other result but what I think is best. And I AM going to do my best to provide every opportunity for them to hear the Gospel spoken and to see it lived out in our home, BUT... I am trying to loosen my grip because I grasp in vain. My white-knuckled controlling heart will not guarantee my victory AND doesn't place the credit in the right place.

This lesson actually makes my heart sing for 2 reasons. One, God's children don't obey perfectly, mine certainly won't. Isaac is not a robot to be controlled, but a human being created in the image of God to be taught. This takes a little pressure off. I won't get perfect results. Perfect parenting (which is obviously impossible!!!) doesn't equal perfect results! And two, God is trustworthy and in control. I mess up and I'm going to continue to. It's not okay, but it is okay. Does that make sense? It's not okay that I don't always parent the way I'm supposed to. It's wrong and I'm responsible for it. BUT, God's in control of the end result and he will work in my children's lives in spite of my shortcomings. That is such a relief! And while I pray that there's a lot of less of the "No!'s" and the tantrums and the attitude, I will bask in the "Yes, ma'am's" and the hugs and the giggles and know that I'm just part of the story. To God (not me!) be the honor and glory for all that is accomplished in these beautiful boys' lives!


  1. Good stuff, Desire. You've probably already read it, but another good book is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Paul Tripp (or one of the Tripps). I should read that one every year. It's very good for reminding me to train their heart rather than focus on behavior. And a hard lesson I've learned through the years is that we are going to scar our kids simply because we are sinners. THey're going to see how much I really believe the gospel, not by what I say, but by the grace I'm able to extend (or not extend) to them when I see their sin. Anyway...I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing so candidly.

  2. Desire this is so amazing. I found your blog through the LinkUp at Courtney's. Yes, I know what you mean---trying to parent perfect when I am not perfect. Yes, it is hard but we have to believe that God is working in our little blessing hearts just like He is working in ours. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Beautifully said; I love it! I'm currently approaching motherhood...quite anxiously I must admit...and your post was very reassuring to me. Thanks for sharing your heart!


  4. Thanks, ladies. Amanda, I have read Shepherding a Child's Heart and think that and Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman are staple reads for parenting. How quickly I forget to train their hearts! I definitely need to revisit both of those books soon!

  5. That was a GREAT post! Must wisdom therein. Couldn't have said it any better. Thanks Des!

  6. For some interesting stats/info on what aspects of parenting make the most impact check out the book Freakonomics. Doesn't tell you how to parent, but makes some interesting points - its an enjoyable read for other reasons as well. Hope you guys are well!