Let’s face it, parenting is not for the faint of heart! It is a weighty responsibility and can often be a rough road. It is also a privilege and can be an absolute joy. Most people’s experience as a parent encompasses both. Don’t be fooled by what you see on the outside, positively or negatively. Every parent will experience both hardships and joys, successes and failures with each of their kids.

My husband and I have three daughters ages 21, 19, and 17. When I was pregnant with our last born, I remember wondering what our third daughter would be like. The older two girls are as different as night and day. I wondered if our third girl would take after one of them more than the other. Nope! Although she’s the same gender, she has a personality all her own. All three of them are completely different and none of them came with a manual on how to parent them! As you can imagine, parenting three very different girls has been challenging (we won’t even talk about middle school girl drama or the word quotas that are shattered daily in our home).

I often got anxious about how I was doing as a parent. I love my girls so much and want to train them up to be godly women that love Jesus and serve others well. No small or easy task in this crazy, broken world! I found myself falling into the trap of comparing myself with other parents and my girls to their kids. That’s a slippery slope that leads to nowhere good! The reality is that like myself, those other parents and all our kids are broken too. They aren’t perfect and neither am I. In my anxiousness, my eyes were looking in the wrong direction and at the wrong person. Parenting is funny that way. We usually have the right heart and desires when it comes to our kids, but we get all tripped up by those little (or big) stinkers.

If parenting has taught me anything, it’s that my Heavenly Father is the only One who is perfect. Instead of looking down at myself or around at others, my gaze needs to be fixed upward on Him. Don’t get me wrong, we can learn a lot from one another, and we should lean on the ones God places us in community with. I tap into my village regularly! But they don’t have all the answers and they are not perfect, our Father is. As my gaze turns upward and is fixed on Him, I find that He gives me a true perspective on parenting: to be faithful over perfect. Perfection is unattainable and unrealistic, but I can be faithful. I can be consistent. I can be present. Like any good father, God sets us up for success and gives us what we need to be able to do each of those things well. We don’t even have to do that on our own!

Parenting is hard work and you will mess up. Your kids will be sure to tell you when you do! That’s okay. We’ve all been there (multiple times). Let your good, good Father use that in your life and in your kids’ lives. Instead of beating yourself up over it, pretending it didn’t happen, or worse, giving yourself license because you’re the one in charge, try acknowledging how you messed up. Ask your kids for forgiveness and talk about how you are learning too. Let’s face it, just as we are training and disciplining our kids in the hopes that they will turn out well, God is in the process of training and disciplining us. God’s work in us and in our kids won’t stop until He is finished.

Let’s extend ourselves and our kids a little grace. Let’s not expect perfection, but faithfulness. Let’s look upward and fix our gaze on our Heavenly Father, the only perfect parent and help our kids to do the same.

Lisa Olson is the High School Ministry Coordinator for our Student Ministry.

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