Question: As my children grow older, it’s getting harder and harder to be the good parent I want so much to be. The issues are more complex, and my inadequacies are more apparent to both me and my children. What advice can you give me?
Answer: Parents know from the start that they don’t know all the answers and aren’t perfect, but babies and small children are so innocent and trusting that they don’t even notice. That begins a few years later and peaks in the teen years. The solution is not in striving to reach the unattainable standard of “perfect parent,” but rather in learning to use your imperfections and inabilities as steppingstones. Here are three advantages of that approach:
First, when you know you are weak and insufficient in yourself, you are quicker to seek and accept God’s help. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God”(2 Corinthians 3:5). When we are weak, then He is strong in us and for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). Dependence on God will equip you with strength and wisdom that you could never attain on your own.
Second, weakness helps to keep you humble. When you are humble, you are more patient and understanding with your children. You are also usually more open to suggestions from others who, being a bit removed from the situation, can sometimes see things more clearly.
Third, you set a wonderful example by showing your children that you know you are weak and fallible and in need of God’s help, just like they are. This also puts you in a position to develop a closer relationship with them.
So don’t let a few weaknesses discourage or hold you back. You can be your weak, imperfect, human self and still be a great parent. In fact, that’s the only kind of great parent there is.
That said, the best way to know what your children need and how to help them is to ask Jesus. Next to having His love, the most important thing that you as a parent can do is to learn to ask the Lord for guidance in each situation. He always has the answer you need. Having Him as a parenting partner lifts a great deal of the load off of you.
For example, if your child is in a difficult phase and you’re losing patience, ask Jesus for help. His Spirit will calm your own, bring solutions to your mind, and help you to ride out the storm of difficulties that may arise. He can fill your heart and mind with His love, which enables you to have patience beyond your own abilities. Or if your child has a habit of talking back, ask Jesus to show you why the problem got started and how to best correct it. He understands your child inside and out, and He has all the answers.