On January 1, all around the world, people resolve to do better. They look back and reflect on where life has taken them over the past year. They think about what went wrong and what went right. They look forward and consider how they want life to be different in the coming year. They dream and plan. They set goals and make resolutions.
Parents are no exception. We do those things, too. But I don’t think it’s a once-a-year phenomenon for us. We have been entrusted with raising another human. It’s an enormous privilege and an enormous responsibility — and because we understand the gravity of it, we spend hours second-guessing, comparing, judging, self-criticizing, and worrying.
At some point in your parenting journey, someone has probably reminded you that God chose you to be your child’s parent. (If they haven’t yet, just wait; it will happen eventually.) And if you’re like me, you nod and put on a smile that doesn’t quite reach your eyes because you know that must be true, but deep down, you have trouble really believing it.
But what if that changed? What if you let that message sink down deep into your soul? What if you let yourself believe that God chose you — that He loves you and your children fully and perfectly? What if you accepted your identity in Christ and applied it to your role as a parent?
Your Kids Need You
Maybe you cherish the idea that you are loved, chosen, and accepted in terms of your salvation. Maybe you’ve learned to feel secure in your relationship with God by choosing to believe that He is who He says He is and that you are who He says you are.
But when it comes to your kids, something shifts. I mean, sure, God gave your children to you. And sure, technically, He chose you to be their parent. But deep down, you have this nagging worry that someone else could do it better. That you aren’t enough. That to be a good parent, you need to be better and do more — or just turn into someone else entirely. That inspirational mommy on Instagram seems like she has everything together. Maybe you should be more like her.
The thing is, that approach will only leave you frustrated and feeling like a complete failure. Even if Instagram weren’t the highlight reel that it is, you won’t get very far trying to be someone else. The best you’ll ever be is a knockoff — an imitation of the real thing.
Like I tell my son, God knew the world needed you. He could have made a copy of someone else, but He didn’t. He made you. So be you. You bring things to the table that no one else can.
As a parent, the best gift you can give your kids is the best version of you — not a discount version of someone else.
Now, that’s not an excuse for lazy parenting or for a lack of personal growth. But it’s it freeing to embrace the idea that God gave your kids you, and you are enough? To know that you don’t have to be someone else to be a great parent?
Your Kids Need God
There’s another side to this story that I think we all need to hear. I know I need to remind myself of it much more often.
Our kids need God.
Life is full of paradoxes. In one sense, you are enough. The best version of you is exactly what your kids need. As a parent, you are enough.
But our kids need more than a parent. They need a Savior. And in that sense, none of us will ever be enough, because we aren’t meant to be. We will make mistakes. We will cause hurt. In one way or another, we will fall short of perfection.
That’s where God comes in. As parents, we have to trust God to love and guide our children. We have to trust that He is shaping them into the people He wants them to be, because that’s something we can’t do.
Our kids have needs that we can’t meet. They will face challenges that we cannot foresee. We won’t always be able to protect them, and we won’t send them out into the world 100% prepared for every eventuality. And that’s terrifying.
But isn’t it comforting to know that God loves our kids perfectly? To realize that He knows them fully and is in complete control?
It’s scary to let go and let God, but it’s so so so important that we don’t usurp God’s role in our children’s lives. Leave room for God to do His work, both in you and in your children. Give your children the best version of you, and then let that be enough. Trust God to take care of the rest.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a type 1 on the Enneagram. On this week’s podcast (episode 127), Kathleen and I discuss how the perfectionistic tendencies of a 1 can affect your parenting — and what you can do to balance them out. Check it out on iTunes or Podomatic.