I used to believe there was such a thing as perfect families. It started with The Brady Bunch. Mike and Carol were loving parents, the kids always seemed happy, and the family’s problems were not only minimal but easy to solve.
As I grew older, I wondered if everybody else around me had a perfect family, too. That’s how they all looked from the outside, anyway.
I’ve been ministering to families for nearly three decades, and I can tell you that a lot of parents feel intense pressure to be perfect. From Hollywood to Pinterest to Facebook, moms and dads are inundated with images that leave them feeling like they don’t measure up. Many of them have reached out to us here at Focus on the Family and told us they feel inadequate.
“My child is making poor choices.”
“My teenager has become a prodigal.”
“Where have we gone wrong as parents?”
If that’s where you are, I encourage you not to allow perfection to become the standard by which you judge yourself. That’s a particularly big problem for moms and dads who are hyper-connected to social media.
Have you ever been online and thought, “Man, this family sure seems like they’ve got it all together”? That’s not just your imagination. A study from the University of Michigan revealed that Facebook users generally only post their most positive highlights.
That means the vast majority of images we see across our social media platforms are of smiling families, extravagant vacations, and announcements that somebody else’s child has achieved something spectacular.
That’s when we’re susceptible to thinking, “Where have we gone wrong?”
Parents judge themselves so severely in comparison to what they see on Facebook some experts are now referring to it as “Fantasybook.”
We can’t be perfect, so we need grace. Behind the scenes, parenting can be messy. For all of us. That’s why authenticity can be a parent’s best friend. Parents who are willing to extend grace to themselves and the people around them will have a much healthier and happier household than parents who are striving for perfection.
If your child’s poor choices make you feel like a bad parent, I have some encouragement and practical help for you today and tomorrow on our radio program “Embracing the Messiness of Parenting.”
Recent guest Dr. Meg Meeker is with us again, but this time she’s turning the tables and interviewing me and my wife, Jean, about my new book, “When Parenting Isn’t Perfect.” Jean wasn’t my co-author, but we’ve been married for over 30 years, and she’s been right alongside me throughout our parenting journey.
Dr. Meg Meeker has been practicing pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than three decades. I hope you’ll join us on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app. You can find my books and other helpful resources for your family in our online bookstore.