No 100% in Parenting
A friend of mine preached a message at our church recently and was very vulnerable in using an illustration from her own life. I sent her a text to tell her what a great job she did with the sermon and thanked her for her honesty. In response, she said,
“I figured I might as well be transparent since acting like I have it all together never helped anyone.”
We fall into the tendency to hide our personal struggles. Held back by our fear, shame, and an endless list of “should haves”, we keep these less-than-perfect moments tucked away. And yet sharing truthfully leads to the ability to help others as well as ourselves. So I want to be honest with you about something many parents (if not all) experience - regret, fear, and shame about the past.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent even though I’ve believed that’s what I need to be. Too many of us beat ourselves up for falling short of an impossible ideal. Thanks to social media we see everyone’s perfect moments and falsely believe their family l
ives match the perfect photo ops and accomplishments shared online. Part of us realizes this isn’t true, and we know being a perfect mom or dad is not possible to attain. But still we try desperately to wrestle our way there, only to fall short every time.
My kids are currently 20 and 23, and it’s easier now for me to talk about the less-than-perfect ways I’ve handled raising them even though I still experience regret and shame from time to time. I struggle with depression and anxiety and have since high school, so postpartum depression hit me hard, especially after the birth of our youngest. The darkness continued as our kids got older. Those were terrible days. Most of my coping mechanisms were unhealthy even though I knew healthy ones. I went through the motions of motherhood and felt the weight of failure. For awhile, I blamed it on
my mental health issues and told myself everything was out of my control. Over the years, I’ve learned that along with anxiety and depression there were times I also chose to be distant and detached because I didn’t just didn’t want to. Even though my mental and emotional struggles weren’t my choice, it did interfere with my parenting. The truth is I was not, am not or will ever be a perfect parent. What took me a long time to realize is that there’s no such thing as a 100% in parenting. So why was I trying to measure up to something that didn’t exist?
I know there were areas where I failed my kids. Building a strong connection with my girls from the start was hard. Day to day life was hard. Writing about this time still brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I look back on those days and regret how unavailable I was to meet my girls’ needs. The old feelings of shame can still rise up in me and fear keeps me from being open with my story if I let it. But I’ve learned to allow Him to heal the places where fear and shame keep me stuck in past regrets. Little by little, as things come to mind, I continue to confess the areas where sin affected my family through my own choices and ask Him to fill the missing pieces in m
y girls’ lives with His perfect love that I cannot give them in my struggles and imperfections.
Your story may look a little like mine, or it may be entirely different with similar feelings attached. It’s time to mourn what has or hasn’t been, to ask the Lord to reveal healing truth to your heart, and when necessary to confess the areas where sin has played a factor in your parenting and has affected your kids.
I pray your heart will find comfort and encouragement today. That no matter the details of your parenting story, you will allow the Lord to bring healing in the areas where you’ve felt fear and shame. If you want someone to listen to your story and to pray specifically for your situation, please fill out the Contact form. I’d love to connect with you.