I will be the first to admit that I am not a perfect parent. Somedays, I choose to do the dishes and laundry instead of sit and read to my kids. Somedays, I choose to get in a 30 minute workout instead of snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. Somedays, I choose to run errands and drag my kids along with me instead of taking them to the park. Here’s the hard one to admit: Somedays, I choose to check emails or scroll through social media instead of get down and play legos with them. That darn social media can be such a life waster but I get sucked in! Somedays, I choose to let them cry it out instead of tend to their needs. Somedays, I choose to leave them with Grandma so I can go to lunch with a friend or go on a date with my husband. None of these things are wrong and a lot of the time it’s things that need to get done. I can’t tend to them every second of every day- someone has to do the laundry and dishes! And there is no shame in taking care of my own body or having a few minutes to myself here and there. Our son has said, “mom, you shouldn’t go on dates with daddy. You’re a mom and you should be with your kids.” hahahah of coarse I had to tell him, “I was a wife before I was a mom, and that means that mommy and daddy need to spend time together. One day you’ll be so glad that we did because a happy marriage is rare and beautiful. Many kids don’t get to see what that is.” He didn’t get it, he wanted his way still. My point is, I am NOT perfect, and my kids don’t think i am perfect either. They look up to my husband and I but they also point out everything they think we are doing wrong!
Sometimes I ask the kids, “What can mommy do better to be a better mommy?” they usually respond with, “Let me do what I want.” or “Buy me more things” or “do what I say.” Sometimes they will say things like “hug me” or “love on me more” (which, honestly, I think I already smother them too much with hugs but maybe they just needed one in that moment) but it’s usually things that wouldn’t benefit them if I did. Imagine what they would be like if I just bought them more things or gave them all they wanted!
We get so worried that we are going to “ruin” our children. There are so many different theories of parenting: there is strict parenting, relaxed parenting, gentle parenting, cry it out methods, coddling methods. spanking vs. time out vs. lectures vs. no punishing etc. So many methods, so many conflicting ideas of how to parent. But heres the one thing I know, your kids will find a way to point out where you messed no matter how you parented. Because guess what? just like we aren’t perfect-our kids won’t be either. They will have some sort of hang up about how we “didn’t give them enough attention” or we “didn’t give them enough space.” “We didn’t give them enough freedom” or we “gave them too much freedom.” They will want to do something different than the way we did, and they’ll say things like, “When I’m a parent, I will never do ____ to my kids, like you did.” You know what I will say to my kids when they say that? “Good. I hope you do better than me because every generation should get better and better. But while you live here, you will follow mom and dads rules.” Oh wow, now I really sound like my parents.
I can promise you I will continue to be a less than perfect parent my whole life. I have heard my friends, who had “the perfect parents” in my opinion, complain about how their mom shopped too much, or yelled a lot, or drank too much wine on the weekends, or didn’t talk with them enough, or talked to them too much. I have had friends say their parents never fought in front of them and now they don’t know how to handle conflict. Other friends say that their parents always fought in front of them and it scarred them for life. Each person will internalize their experience differently and we can’t change that. So what can we do?
I will tell you right now, the single and most important thing we can do for our children. You ready? Pray for them. So simple. Just pray for them. Pray that God will guide them, that He will comfort them when they feel lonely, that He will give them real joy and love for themselves and others. That He will sustain them when they feel weary and He will use us to shape and grow them to be what He wants them to be. Pray that He will use your imperfections to grow their character. That He will do great works in them and use them to further His kingdom.
I can tell you that I did not have the perfect childhood, if you have read some of my blogs then you would know I had a pretty dysfunctional life, but I do believe that somebody out there was praying for me. Somebody asked God to be with me because in my darkest moments, He always showed up.
I have been making it a point to pick two times in the day: I picked when I am breastfeeding Brooke and when I take the big kids to bed. I picked those two times to pray over them, whether it’s out loud or in my heart. I pray deeply over them. Sometimes I even pray that they will learn to obey, or not fight with each other so much. Whatever the struggle was that day, I hand it over to God. Whatever I messed up on that day, I ask for forgiveness. Sometimes I just pray blessings over them and other times I am so tired I just say, “God, you saw my day and know my heart, you know what I need and they need right now.” Doesn’t matter what you need to give to God, just give it up and let go.
They are His children before they are mine so I know that He wants to bless them and lead them, all we have to do is ask.
No matter how bad you screw up, God can and will use it for good if you ask Him to! Love your kids, do your best, but above all…pray for your kids.