Have you ever had a day when the toddler won’t nap, the kids declare war on each other, or the principal calls to say he needs to talk with you about your teen—again? You wonder when parenting got so hard—and why every other parent seems to have it all together.
Here’s the truth: This whole parenting thing is tough—for everyone. Every parent since Adam and Eve has felt like they were failing at one time or another. And let’s be honest: You’re raising wild little creatures into kind, smart, productive adults who love the Lord. That’s the toughest job you’ll ever have!
But failure is okay, because enough failure often brings success. The key is keeping God—the one truly perfect Father—at the center. If your parenting decisions honor Him and display the same firm, loving kindness that He shows to us, then you’ve done what He’s asked of you. And He’ll honor your efforts, even if you mess up every now and then.
As you’re leaning into your Father with your parenting challenges, keep these three things in mind too:
1. Trust God to teach your kids from your mistakes.
Your mistakes are actually teachable moments. Not only do you know what not to do next time, but something bigger is happening. Your kids are learning forgiveness and humility.
Sincerely apologize to them when you mess up. They’ll forgive you, and it’ll blow their minds that you humbled yourself before them. That teaches them to ask for forgiveness when they wrong someone else. It also shows them that everyone makes mistakes—even you. And that’s okay! It takes the pressure off of them to be perfect, and they’ll actually trust and respect you and your authority more. That’s great news as they get older and the stakes get higher.
2. God knew what He was doing when He gave you your child.
Sometimes, if your child is especially strong-willed or just completely unlike you, you might wonder what God was thinking when He brought them to you. Well, only He knows for sure, but you should know this much: It wasn’t a mistake. You're the best parent your child has.
God chose you for your child for a reason—to teach you patience, or perseverance, or trust. Or maybe it’s because you can teach your child like no one else can. Whatever the reason, try to look at the bigger picture when parenting feels really hard. What could God be trying to show you here?
3. Compare yourself only to what God asks of you, not to your perception of other parents.
Don’t be fooled by the families who look perfect in public. In private, those parents are sometimes nailing it—but other times they’re failing too. So don’t be tempted to compare yourself to them. God made them very different from you!
The adolescent drama that stresses you out might be that other parent’s strength. But they also need their own time-out to recover from the toddler meltdowns that don’t even faze you. So celebrate your own parenting wins, because those victories will carry you through the valleys. And don’t beat yourself up over your weaknesses!
The next time you start to feel the pull toward perfection—or guilt when you’ve failed to achieve it—try this: Find a place you can go that’s quiet. Clear your mind so you can focus on God. Then say this prayer:
Father, You are perfect, and You are good. Sometimes I struggle with not feeling like a perfect parent, but my standards are not Yours. Your grace covers me, and You love me as I am. I am made perfect in You. Free me, Father, from the desire for perfection. You are the only perfect parent there is. Give me the wisdom to lean into Your strength and Your Word when I’m struggling. Allow my failings to be used for Your glory. And remind me to look upward to You to know how to parent my children when I’m tempted to compare myself to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
And remember, you’re not alone. You’re surrounded by parents who’ve walked this road before you or are there with you right now! You may not be the perfect parent, but you’re probably a pretty great one.