Being a parent is a messy, difficult, joyful journey. Sometimes in our zeal for helping our children succeed, we put the burden of unrealistic expectations on their shoulders. Jill Savage talks about letting our children be themselves as God has designed and gifted them.
She starts with a powerful statement:
“We need to give up being perfect and embrace being perfected.”
Our comparison with others and their lives extends into our parenting and can wound the hearts of our children.
How can we recognize and correct a perfectionist mindset toward our children? Jill outlines four simple steps.
1. Ask yourself – what are my expectations?
2. Ask yourself – what is reality?
3. Grieve the loss of your dream, whatever it is.
“Bring that grief to the foot of the cross. God knows what this feels like. Grieving what isn’t opens us up to accepting what is.”
4. Walk. Jill calls us to lean in and ask God what He has for us in this place of disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment.
What happens when our child does something that disappoints us? What happens when the child we raised in the church walks away, or the daughter we wanted to take to musicals wants to play baseball instead? Jill says there are two responses we have in those moments. We look at the child and say “How can you do this to me?” Then we look at God and repeat the question.
She says that’s the wrong approach.
“The minute we make our child’s decisions about us is the minute we become ineffective as a parent. You and I are defined by the God who loves us, not the choices our child makes or doesn’t make.”
Instead, we should ask what God has for us and our children to learn as a result of this decision.