(Guest Post) Parenting Perfection Is Unattainable
By Betty Rotiche, Instructor at Kenya Highlands University
PARENTING PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE
Have you ever shared a story with friends then regretted it because of the level of varied judgement you received?
I once told some friends about the onset of my parenting paranoia. It was the time when my son was three years old and he would get impatient waiting to be released to go for junior church. One Sunday, I had my hands full with his one-year-old sister and my husband was engaged in the service. My son found his way to the back of the church with other kids and in no time they were outside. I had a gut feeling to go check on him but I kept resisting for fear of disrupting the worship service. After all it was normal for a bunch of children to be outside and there had never been any incident. Eventually, I could not take it any more and I silently left the church.
Lo and behold my son and the other children were talking to a stranger who was outside the church fence. The stranger was trying to convince them to walk out through the church gate and get to where she was in order to receive some goodies. My son seemed like the team leader and was not sure whether to go or not. The female stranger was so focused on convincing the children that she did not notice me. As I drew closer trying to eavesdrop on the conversation, my son saw me and came running. The stranger crossed the street and walked away very fast. The children in their pure innocence reported that the stranger had some goodies that she wanted to share with them. I grabbed all the children and took them back to church after a brief lecture on not leaving church, not talking to strangers and not taking goodies from strangers.
I got a variety of reactions from my friends.
How did he have the audacity to walk out of the church?
Why were you sitting up front knowing you had small children?
Why was his father not helping?
What were you thinking?
Why didn’t you hire a nanny even just for Sunday alone?
Don’t you think you are still overreacting to that one isolated incident?
I was struggling with these judgments when I came across a similar incident in the Bible in Luke 2: 41-52. The parents of Jesus lost track of Jesus for what the Bible describes as a day’s journey (vs 44). They assumed that he was around...just somewhere with family and friends. They went back to Jerusalem and found him after three days (vs 46). Have you ever imagined what Mary and Joseph had to go through during those three grueling days? The looks they got? The questions they were asked?
Why did you not keep your son close to you?
How can you travel a whole day without seeing your child?
Is he a rebellious boy?
I wonder if there were accusations and counter- accusations between Joseph and Mary. You see, our human nature often wants to shift the blame. Mary may have felt that Joseph should have taken more responsibility for the big boy as she attended to the younger children. Joseph may have thought that, since he was in the company of other men, Mary should have attended to the children with the help of the other women, and even Jesus should have helped the mother take care of the younger siblings. Both may have felt that Jesus should have been more responsible since he was of age. Mary’s statement in vs 48 is telling, “Son, why have you treated us so?”
Have you ever been in a situation where you got looks and questions because of the way your child was behaving? Humanly speaking, it is impossible to be a perfect parent or parents at all times and in every way. Even Jesus did not have a perfect family. God knew that Joseph and Mary would not be perfect parents but He still chose them to raise the Messiah. There are times when family demands and responsibilities come into conflict with societal demands. This is what was happening with Jesus’ family. There are times when parenting responsibilities become overwhelming. As such, mishaps will happen occasionally. Being human means we are limited in many ways, including parenting.
In as much as each parenting stage will present its own set of challenges, do your parenting bit: pray for wisdom, point them to Jesus, be there, be intentional, be consistent, be dependable, be the best that you can be as a parent. When mishaps occur, do not be too hard on yourself and do not allow others to judge you too harshly as parenting perfection is unattainable. I have yet to meet someone who said they came from a perfect family. Have you?