Have you ever had that moment as a parent that you are standing in the kitchen pantry with the door locked behind you as you eat the last twenty Oreos in the bag, all while the children are screaming in the background “DAD! DAD, where are you…brother, hit me with the potty seat.” Then, as the screaming continues, you hear, “DAD! Where are you! Are you playing hide and seek.” Then you know the feeling!
Parenting is challenging and frustrating. It’s hard to know if you’re doing the right things and making wise choices that will benefit your children. It can sometimes feel like there’s no good answer for many parenting situations you find yourself in. Like potty seats being throw at each other in the living room. Or what to do with the dreaded phone call from the teacher requesting an immediate parent-teacher conference because one of the children decided that the flower pot in the corner was the new classroom lavatory.
In parenting, as in the rest of life, perfection isn’t a possibility. So, do the best you can do today, instead! Because that is all, you can do. A good friend told me that you are a fantastic parent if you can achieve just 51 percent. So, if you try to do just a little better each day than yesterday was, then today will be a great day. But it is also essential to recognize that not every day will be a storybook-ending kind of day. It is okay to have a terrible moment or even a terrible day. It does not define you as a parent, and more importantly, it does define your child!
You did not choose me, but I chose you (as a parent) and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. JOHN 15:16
Now my interpretation of the scripture and prayer goes more like this: Lord, You chose me to be a parent to these beautiful two boys, and I know that whatever I ask of you will give me. At this exact moment, I am asking you to provide me with 20 seconds to eat my Oreos while I hide in the kitchen pantry. Let me catch the grace that you give me to show that same grace to these children. Just 20 seconds….20!
As we all learn this parenting thing- here are a few tips to accept your flaws and be the best parent you can be:
- No one teaches you how to be a great parent. You learn a lot of things in school, but parenting skills aren’t commonly covered. Maybe it should be the first class we take in high school. “Parenting 101” and “How to Manage Money 102,” But we didn’t. So we can read books, observe others, or make it up as we go along.
- Being a great parent isn’t easy. This is easy to prove to yourself by looking at all the poor examples of parents you’ve known.
- Learn from your own parents. Whether your parents were spectacular, mediocre, or terrible, there is something that you can learn from them.
- Think about what your parents did well.
- Consider how your parents failed.
- There is a lot of good information you can use from your childhood. Discuss this with your siblings if they’re willing.
- Ask for feedback from your children. Tell your kids that you want to be a better parent and ask for advice. Ask them what you could do better. A lot of the information you’re given won’t be helpful, but there will be a few gold nuggets of advice in there. You might hear a few things you’ve never considered.
- Ignore the non-experts. Everyone you meet will have an opinion about how to better parent children. Plenty of those people will give you advice without you asking for it. Everyone likes to be an armchair quarterback. Consider their feedback but make your own decision about whether to implement their ideas.
- Cover the basics. These may be basic, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy! Do your best to ensure that your kids see these concepts in action.
- Children and everyone else need to have high self-esteem. Life is miserable and limiting without it.
- School matters. Help your child to do as well as they can in school. Good students have more opportunities.
- Be a good role model. Your children are always watching you.
- Money matters. Love is great, but it won’t pay the rent, buy shoes, or pay for the doctor. Spend your working day trying to maximize your income.
- Keep them safe.
- Teach them the important things. Teach them the importance of saving money, making friends, dealing with negative emotions, being honest, and other things that speak to your values.
- Spend time with them each day. We spend time on the things that matter. When you ignore your children, they know they don’t matter.
- Love unconditionally. Show your children that you love them even when they make mistakes.
- You can do everything right and still have challenges. Children aren’t plants. You can’t be guaranteed success just by adding some water and fertilizer. Each child is different. You could be as perfect as humanly possible and still have a child that struggles.
- Read. Parenting is one of the most researched areas of study in the world. There are a lot of great books that all parents can read and use.
Remember there will always be storms. There will be times when everything crashes, and you feel like that everything you touch is wrong. Everything that you say is wrong. There will be times when you feel like a failure, and you cry out to God of “why.” But, take a deep breath and remember that others have been exactly where you are at in the parenting journey. So, seek out a friend and talk to them about what you are feeling. This should be a person that can encourage you through the storm. All storms will calm with time.
No parent can be perfect. You’re doomed to feel like a failure if perfection is your goal. Fortunately, kids are pretty resilient and don’t require perfect parenting. So keep doing your best and trying to improve. Be the best parent you can be and your children will eventually thank you for it. And always remember to buy enough Oreos to get you through the rough patches.
So, when we search for the next new house (#nextnewhouse), remember to measure the Pantry because it is the most essential room for everyone’s mental health!