A + B = C.
For some of you, that’s basic Algebra.
For some of you, that’s an approach to parenting.
You see raising children as a formula. If you apply the right ideas in just the right ways, you believe you’ll get the right outcome. Every time! Your goal isn’t to be a good parent, or even a great one. Your goal is to be perfect.
On the surface, perfection appears to be an admirable goal. After all, what parent wants to make mistakes? The problem is that would-be perfect parents overlook two crucial points:
- Humans make mistakes, and parents are human.
- Children have free will and rarely follow a parent’s formulas.
I wrote a book called When Parenting Isn’t Perfect, and somebody I know asked me, “Why include the word when?”
No parent is perfect. Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t an invitation to white-knuckle our way through life and try harder. It was to free us from striving to earn His favor while enabling us to live in gratitude for the way that He loves the authentic, flawed, imperfect us.
Authors Stephen James and Chip Dodd say parents often get caught up in one of two common family dynamics: the parent-centric home and the child-centric home.
But there’s a third. The relationship-centric home enables moms and dads to parent their children with a long-term view in mind, rather than a short-term.
Stephen and Chip say that moms and dads can fully embrace the ups and downs of parenting if they can tolerate four realities of life:
- Some days, clumsy may be the best you can hope for in your parenting.
- You have to face life on life’s terms.
- Everything is practice. Doctors practice medicine. Lawyers practice law. Parents practice parenting.
- It takes a lifetime – not just 18 years – to learn how to live.
Stephen James and Chip Dodd are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Embracing Your Imperfections as a Parent.” Through stories of their own mistakes and misadventures of fatherhood, they offer hope to parents who are striving to be perfect. They’ll encourage you to embrace your clumsiness and awkwardness, while aiming to be intentional, loving, and engaged in a solid relationship with your children.
Stephen is the founder and executive director of Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, Tenn. Chip is also a counselor and founder of Sage Hill, which is a social impact organization. For a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Stephen and Chip’s book Parenting with Heart: How Imperfect Parents Can Raise Resilient, Loving, and Wise-Hearted Kids. For more information, visit our website or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).