“Am I a good parent?”
Maybe you wonder this as you scroll Facebook, amazed by all the activities other parents seem to be doing. Maybe you wonder this as you debate whether or not you’re making the best decisions for our children’s health or education or future. Maybe you wonder this as you see other children seeming to behave perfectly while your own child is — well, not. I think sometimes we wonder this even when we’re not actively wondering it. For many of us, this question haunts the core of our beings. Am I a good mom? Am I a good dad?
So today, here is some grace for us — 3 reasons why we don’t have to try so hard to be a “good parent,” according to the world’s standards.
1 — Because God defines parenthood differently than the world does. If we listen to the world, we might believe that our success as parents is something we can quantify, something tied up in our kids’ grades or trophies or blue ribbons. We might connect our parental worth with the material possessions we’re able to give our kids or in our ability to provide them with a magazine-worthy home to grow up in. But, praise God, our loving Father does not expect any of this from us! Here is what he does expect:
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
— Proverbs 22:6
Now this is the commandment… that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments…
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
— Deuteronomy 6:1-7
This greatly narrows our focus, freeing us of the world’s superficial pressure, while also reminding us that the eternal souls of our children are at stake. We are entrusted with these precious souls. We have a great responsibility before God here, but we can only take on the challenge if we’re willing to lay worldly expectations aside and embrace what God desires. And remember: God knows perfectly what is best for them, and for us! His commandments all flow from His infinite wisdom and great love for us.
2 — Because each of us is an imperfect parent, saved by God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Not one of us is the ideal mother or father. We mess up, we lose our patience, we fail to set our mind on things above, we allow our own sins to get in the way. We all do. But if we have chosen to put on Christ in baptism, then thank God — He has saved us! (Gal. 3:27, 1 Peter 3:18-21) What a gift! And if we continue to walk in the light of Christ, God keeps on forgiving us, time and time again.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:7-9
I believe the following verse is relevant here, too:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed… — James 5:16a
Now, we all understand through wisdom that we do not need to share all our sins with our children. But when we sin against them, as we do at times, they need to see us ask for their forgiveness. Though very difficult (at least for me!), what a beautiful opportunity to teach them about humility and forgiveness.
3 — Because if we try instead to be a godly parent, then the rest will fall into place. If we keep our focus on God — something that will not happen by accident but only by the purposeful, continual renewing of our minds through prayer and scripture — then we will become more and more like our loving Father, who is the only Perfect Parent. We will be more like God in how we love and serve and teach our children (as He loves and serves and teaches us). We will begin to display more clearly the fruit of the spirit, fruit such as peace, patience, gentleness, and self-control. We will enjoy spending time with our kids because, like Jesus, we are never too busy to stop and love on the children. We will learn better why and how to discipline our children, as God disciplines us, His children whom He loves (Heb. 12:6-11). We will show greater mercy and grace to our children, just as God shows us His mercy and grace every day. Holiness has always been God’s desire for His people, and parenthood can be a powerful refining tool for this purpose — if we will allow God to do the refining.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
— 2 Cor. 3:18a
Dear ones, our children do not need to see a parent who is chronically concerned that she or he is not good enough. They need to see a parent who fully realizes their own brokenness but humbly, gratefully, joyfully places all those broken pieces into the loving hands of Jesus. They need to see a parent who has set their hope fully on God, not on their own abilities or lack thereof.
So today, friends, we can stop trying so hard to be a good parent according to the world, and try instead to be a godly parent. If we do that — then we will be a good parent. An excellent one.
Photo credit: Denise Husted via Pixabay