Once there was a girl who had a baby.
She wanted to be the world’s best mom.
She thought about what she had been taught about this.
She read books and websites by people who said they were experts.
They promised that if she followed their rulebook, her children would be virtually perfect.
Her children’s souls, they said, depended on it.
She did what they said.
It didn’t work.
She tried harder.
People she knew tried to help.
“Be more consistent!” they said.
“Be harder on your kids!”
“Your child has lost respect for you!”
All this advice started to feel like the words of Job’s lousy friends.
She looked to the experts again.
“There is no such thing as a strong willed child,” one expert said, “Only weak-willed mothers.”
“If I could come to your house,” another said, “I could tell you in 5 minutes what you are doing wrong.”
“There is only one way to discipline,” yet another added. “If you don’t get results, you are a failure.”
Well. That she was.
She was scared. Would her failure ruin them?
The experts said it would.
No matter how closely she followed the formulas, her kids would not obey perfectly.
In fact, they fought a lot.
Often they cried and screamed.
This was not supposed to happen!
Sometimes she exploded with frustration.
Where was the perfect happy home she’d been promised?
What was she doing wrong?
Then she realized: This is not how God parents me.
He is longsuffering.
He guides me individually with a plan designed just for me.
He gives grace.
He is merciful when I fail.
The Perfect Parent did not follow the “experts’” formulas!
She threw out the rule books.
She repented of harshness and legalism.
She begged her children’s forgiveness.
She began to discern their uniqueness.
Before, she had swiftly judged every behavior in rigid black and white.
Now she looked through a multicolored lense that took into account that child’s individual struggles…
All had not been as it seemed.
Sometimes (much of the time) her children did not disobey on purpose.
But she hadn’t listened.
Although she loved them, she had viewed them as adversaries.
As little people to be conquered.
She was broken.
How could she not have seen?
She begged God for help.
She began to mend her relationships with her little ones.
Extra hugs and snuggles.
Were her children still sinners?
Yes—and so was she.
Were there boundaries and expectations in her home?
Oh yes. But it was different now.
She loved on her kids.
She studied them.
She learned better how to couple truth with grace.
A few years passed.
Each day she became a better mom.
Sometimes she fell down. Sometimes she fell hard.
Sometimes she fell back into that black hole of fear and legalism.
But over time, things got better.
It became easier to be a good mom.
Her heart was filled with hope.
She is still a long way from perfect.
But her children love her and she has a happy home.
P.S. I won’t tell you who the young mom was. Maybe you can guess.
Have you ever changed your parenting methods? How?
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