Parents Don’t Have to Be Perfect

The Good Enough Mom: A Pep Talk for Exhausted Moms

Are you working hard to be a perfect parent and exhausting yourself in the process? Maybe “perfect mom” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So today, I’m going to give you a pep talk–and tell you that “good enough mom” truly is more than good enough.

Last week I wrote my column on the benefit of having young grandparents, urging people to consider having kids at a younger age. An interesting discussion started in the comments, and one woman said that she and her husband have hesitated to have children because every parent they know complains constantly about their children. The reader says:

Most of my siblings and friends already have children, which is why kids are not on our radar just yet. We aren’t even sure we want them after hearing time and time again, “I love my kids, BUT…” To me, it often sounds like children are more trouble than they’re worth. To date, we have 7 wonderful nieces and nephews that we can love…and send home.

Those she knows with kids aren’t exactly advertisements for parenting. That’s a lesson to those of us who are parents to speak more carefully about our kids.

But I think there’s more going on here. WHY do parents feel so inclined to complain? Maybe parenting has gotten too big. Now, it’s basic economics that the more expensive you make something, the less you will have of it. On the other hand, the easier that you make something, the more you will get of it.

Are we making parenting too expensive?

I’m not talking about just the money—although I did read a study that it now costs about $240,000 per child. I think it’s that we’ve made parenting require too much effort. Maybe we should get back to what’s good enough as a mom–not what would be ideal.

A few years ago I was asked to write an article on how to keep your children busy when the weather’s lousy. I came up with some various ideas, from a board game tournament, to making a fort in the living room, to getting out the video camera and taking tapes of kids singing little songs. I sent it in. I thought it was good.

Then the editor called. She wanted to take the video tape idea one step further. What if I were to host an indoor Olympics, inviting all the neighbourhood kids over? You could play shot put in the hall, and have an obstacle race in the basement, and then you could have the parents in for a medal ceremony and hand out commemorative DVDs of the day!

I thought the editor was off her meds, because no one is going to want strange kids in playing shot put in their hall.

But that is now what we think mothering is. It is huge. We have to chauffeur our kids to every activity. Every spare moment must be spent reading to our kids and playing with our kids and talking with our kids. They must now consume every bit of our lives.

That’s the expectation.

No wonder we never feel like we’re a good enough mom!

We do it largely in isolation. We expect our kids to excel at everything. And so they take up all our energy. We have no time to ourselves. And we expect ourselves to be perfect, because we know that if our kids are messed up it will be our fault.

What if that’s making parenting too big? I’d like to give you permission to be a “good enough” mom:

1. It’s okay to enforce a bedtime so you have evenings to yourself.

Sure, it means a few nights of lots of tears if kids aren’t used to going to bed at a decent hour, or are used to you lying down with them. But it is okay to want “Mommy Daddy time”. And that goes for when the kids are teens, too. It’s okay to say, “be in your room at 10. We want the house to ourselves.”

2. It’s okay to not have your kids in every activity under the sun.

It’s okay to keep control of your schedule. It’s okay to say no to hockey, even if everybody else is in hockey. It’s okay to say “we don’t have the money for that right now”, or “I just want to have time as a family.” It is okay to not live your life in a car pool.

3. It’s okay to live in an apartment.

Kids do not need their own rooms. They do not need a ton of toys, and they do not need a ton of space. Think of how small the post-war houses were, and many families lived there with four kids. It’s okay to live small.

4. It’s okay to not throw huge birthday parties

There is no law saying that you have to invite your child’s entire class to a birthday party (and if that is the rule at your school, then don’t throw a birthday party!). It’s okay to invite one or two special friends and just do something low-key and fun. Come to think of it, you don’t need to do anything big at Christmas, either. It’s more important to spend time together and have fun than it is to spend a ton of money.

5. It’s okay to insist that kids clean up after themselves

You were not put on this earth to do endless laundry. You were not put on this earth to clean up after everybody else. It is okay to insist that people learn how to clean up after themselves at an early age. My kids started chores at 4. They can now be left for a weekend on their own and they will be able to cook their own meals and do the laundry (they’re in their mid-teens). You are not a slave.

6. It’s okay to leave your kids sometimes

Your children do not need you with them 100% of the time. Will they be sad if you go away for a night and they have a baby-sitter? Perhaps. But it’s okay to be sad occasionally. This will not scar your child for life. And it is okay to need to still do adult things. It’s okay to take some time to yourself.

7. It’s okay to not be perfect

Finally, here’s the most important one: It is okay to not be perfect. I messed up with my oldest daughter in a big way this year. We laugh about it now and I say to her, “When you’re a speaker and writer when you’re older, just think of the fodder I’ve given you now for how tough life can be!”. I have made mistakes. Big ones. And the kids know it.

But I’ve also done a lot of things right. And in the end, what the kids remember is how much you loved them, and how you tried to live authentically and godly, even if you didn’t always succeed in getting everything right. Kids are far more forgiving towards us than we are towards ourselves. They want you to be the loving good enough mom, not the stressed perfect mom.

Perhaps if we gave ourselves more grace, and allowed ourselves to still have adult time, and still have fun, and not break the bank parenting, we’d have less to complain about and more to laugh about.

So let’s go, people! Parenting is wonderful; it’s only the expectations on parenting that have become ridiculous. Let’s lower those expectations, and then maybe fewer people would see parenting as a dead-end trap.


Comments

  1. Once again Sheila, well said!!

    I LOVE being a mom! My son is a grown 25 year old man now, but I still LOVE being his mom!! I was a single parent for most of my son’s growing up years, but would not trade one day for anything.

    It’s always been sad to me when I see parents treating their children like they do puppies or kittens. They’re cute for a while, then the allure wears off.

    One of my son’s most fond memories is of he and I playing all sorts of games together both indoors and out. He remembers with a grin when his friends would come over and ask if he and I could come out to play. It was so sad that their parents would not go outside to play with them, but we always had a great time. One parent took notice and began playing with us too. Peer pressure works for adults too!
    Toni Ryan recently posted…My God is Bigger Than…My Profile

  2. Maybe most of her friends have young children (sounds likely). Because honestly, when you have several very young children (my 4th is due in 5 weeks and then I will have 4 kids age 5 and under), it IS HARD. There is no way around it. They are physically SO demanding and there is so much work involved because they can’t do a whole lot for themselves yet. My kids are great helpers, but no one can deny it’s more work to teach them to help than to just do it yourself! Plus it is mentally exhausting because they have constant questions and need so much training and guidance. And you need supernatural patience!!! Plus, no one really prepares you for the way each child is going to change your marriage. That alone can be a painful learning experience. I truly do love my children, and my choices in life are proof of that, but I definitely lament with my friends at times about the mounds of laundry, or the day where my baby cried all day, or how exhausting and defeating my 3yo’s fits are. My mom friends understand this doesn’t mean I would change what I’m doing for anything, it’s just part of life at the moment. So I can see how a friend without kids would get scared overhearing conversations like that! I know my hard work will pay off, and I am excited to get to know my kids more and more as they get older and become friends with them. But for now, there’s a LOT of give without a whole lot of return. And that’s all WITHOUT themed birthday parties! :-) I hope I’m not making it sound worse than it is, ha!!
    Lauren recently posted…Organization: Your To Do List {Tech Tuesday}My Profile

    • Lauren, you’re right. It is a ton of hard work in the early years. There isn’t a getting around that. The good thing is that if you put in that work consistently, the rest of parenting goes a lot easier! But there really is nothing you can do to avoid that hard work early on.

  3. Bethany says:

    Super thoughts, Sheila! I am a mom of just one little guy, a 5 year old, and I work full time as a teacher. I am GUILTY of trying to make things to hard. When our summer started I had a list do 100 things I wanted to do, completely divided into 6 sections, so each day of the week would have a theme (nothing on Sundays). The first week I almost freaked out when we didn’t have time to do all the things I had planned for tuesday! So, there I was…. Standing over the stove making cookies that my son didn’t want while he was in time out crying to get in the bath so he had time to play…. It was not my finest mommy moment! When the day was over, it was me who was almost in tears when it hit me that what I REALLY wanted was to enjoy my son! The activities I thought were so great were actually standing in the way of that! I am not saying we shouldn’t want the best or try to do our best or plan fun things, but you are so right, we do need to show ourselves some grace and remember that God gave us our children for a reason… Because the need US, not the mom down the street who does things differently…
    On a side note, when I asked my son what he wanted to do this summer, he didn’t list much… The pool and visiting his grandparents. Now, that I think I can do…

  4. I really appreciate your thoughts here, Sheila! Why is it that we tend to gripe about our kids? Yes, it’s tough, but isn’t anything we want to do well?

    It is easy to complain about our kids – after all, doesn’t everyone? But the Lord convicted me about that recently, and I plan on going to my kids and apologizing. I’ve determined I will never put them down to other people, because they need a mom who’s supportive of them, not putting them down.

    We all make mistakes, but let’s try to learn from them! Congratulations on your willingness to come to terms with your own mistakes, Sheila! I think we all live there sometime.

    In Him,

    Lisa
    Lisa recently posted…You Know You’re Living In an RV in the Summer When…My Profile

  5. The pressure to bow to the endless list of activities starts young. I’m tellin’ ya. My firstborn is 2 1/2 and there are so many options for him. But y’know what? He’s happiest just running around our house being himself, making me laugh. So I make that the priority. I’d rather do less outside the house and have a happy, rested, connected family.

    My parents handled the flurry of activities well. There were four of us, and their deal with us was “You can have ONE major activity per school year, so choose wisely.” And none of us feel we were robbed or scarred by it. We had time to do our homework, time to rest, time to spend with our family and our friends.

    And chores? We were all doing our own laundry as soon as we were old enough to reach the controls on the machines! :-) One of my mom’s friends who has teenagers was recently lamenting on Facebook about the huge mountain of laundry she had to do, and my mom e-mailed her and said “Honey…you know you can teach your kids to do their own laundry, right?” Seriously, kids need to learn to be self-sufficient and how to take care of their belongings. I hated being made to do cleaning and laundry when I was a kid, but as an adult I see the wisdom in it. I am a Laundry Master and proud of it! :-)
    Melissa recently posted…I think…My Profile

  6. I don’t have kids either. I’m 33 and have been married for almost 3 years. My husband and I kind of feel the same way that your reader you quoted feels. However, what I have realized is that when I hear parents complain, I have to take in the whole picture. I have to look at their consistent character. Some people are just having a bad day. The ones who complain a lot seem to love being a “mom” or a “dad”, but don’t love parenting. I’ve learned that they are very different. A mom can (and does) love her child with all her heart and would NEVER give them up….however, she can hate parenting and complain about it ALL the time! It seems so many people rush into having kids b/c they want a baby (and some other reasons), but they may not always think about the responsibility that is “parenting”. Its a season. Its a blessing. Its a calling. Its a “job” (I don’t mean that in a negative sense). We do want kids one day. I’m learning that its a decision to be in agreement that parenting isn’t always easy, YET the reward is amazing! I know I don’t have first-hand experience of this reward, but I do see it in my friends and I know it b/c God’s Word tells us that children are a blessing! Thanks for the post and encouraging parents to watch their actions so they can be better “promoting” parenthood.

    (I have to just say that married women can do the same with their marriages. When I was single, so many women complained about marriage and their spouses. I think its so important for us to use our marriages as a ministry to singles and young marrieds so they can be encouraged to seek a godly relationship and not one that the world pushes on them.)

    • Right on, Beth! Today’s topic relates to children AND marriage, as you pointed out. One of the most important things we can model before our children is a godly marriage. Sheila’s #1 and #6 above are regularly used in our home so that we can have Mommy Daddy time. Some of our happiest family times are snuggling under a blanket on the couch watching a movie. It’s a joy when we’ve been away from home for awhile and our girls WANT to go home — we have a saying on the wall of our living room” “It’s good to be home” and we all whole-heartedly say, “amen!” Course, I can say all this because my girls are 13 and 10 — we’re past the days of crying infant and temper-tantrum throwing 3 year old. I loved them and being a Mommy at both stages, but this stage is more enjoyable, I must admit. : )

      • There really is nothing as tiring as those early years. The good news is that they do grow–and then you wish to have a few minutes of enjoying them as babies again!

  7. This is SO needed for me today. I am one week away from having my first baby and I ALREADY feel the pressure of our culture to be the PERFECT mom. Thank you for your wisdom and honesty
    Becky recently posted…38 weeks – Will this baby ever come?My Profile

  8. Oh Sheila, such good encouragement for all of us! First to watch our words. Sometimes we need to commiserate with someone who understands, but we mustn’t get into the habit of magnifying our troubles by rehearsing them! (Guilty as charged.)

    But – as in the story of the nutty editor – we’ve got the whole thing turned upside down. We (culturally) have our priorities all mixed up and it’s EXHAUSTING. I love your gentle reminders to enforce basic rules/expectations – not only for the kids’ benefit – but to keep mom and dad sane :D

    And to those of you readers that are looking in from the outside, hearing complaints… YES, kids are a lot of work. There’s no good way around that. But work up front means peace and joy later. My boys are currently 11, 13, and 15. They are NOT PERFECT! They’re sinners – just like me and their dad ;D But we ENJOY them. In fact, we took a 22-day, 5000 mile road-trip last fall and had a FABULOUS time. I’d do it again this year, if we could afford it.

    Julie G

  9. Thanks Sheila, I needed this reminder especially today.
    Sis recently posted…Frustrated at Lack of Self-DisciplineMy Profile

  10. Thank you. I feel somewhat validated as a mother. Everyone else I know with children seems to do the opposite of what you’re saying here, like throwing huge parties for their child’s 4th birthday and cleaning up after them all the time. I was starting to feel like I was a terrible mom. I had my children cleaning and picking up after themselves as soon as they were able as a necessity, however. I spent 8 years barely able to walk much less do anything else, and though I’m much better now, I still have to be careful (so as not to make it worse).
    Sharon recently posted…Are there any out there?My Profile

  11. What an wonderful article! II full heartedly agree with everything you have said. I breaks my heart when I hear people saying they don’t want kids. My biggest fear was never marrying or having kids for when I was old I would be all a lone. Kids are a lot of work, but as you stated, society has pushed parents to cater to their kids in unrealistic ways – often to the neglect of actual parenting and just being your child’s friend! I’m looked at as if I had two heads sometimes when I tell others my kids are only involved in one extra activity plus youth night at the church. Yet we have wonderful family times together as a result and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Give kids all they want or what others think they should have and you will raise a child who turns into an adult and expects that. In addition, if kids don’t get taught about down time, how will they learn how to slow their lives down enough for God to be able to speak into their lives. It’s an uphill battle and you feel like an idiot making the choices sometimes, but the payoff is priceless. Great points and oh that more people would follow them!

  12. Sarah Springfield says:

    I think sometimes I complain about my kids just because there are times when the situations I find myself in because of them are simply unbelievably ridiculous. I have a 4yo, 2yo and am in the first few weeks of pregnancy with our 3rd, so I’ve been sick as a dog.

    My mom came over a couple weeks ago to help me get things organized and give me a fresh start. The following morning I woke up to find that my 2yo had gotten up before anyone else in the house and scattered a whole thing of fish food all over the kitchen, and dumped out colored pencils, books and dvds all over the rest of the house. Later in the day she peed in the kitchen and dumped half a jar of pickle juice on the living room couch. It was just one of those days you look around and think “really? REALLY?”

    My single, childless gf called later in the day and heard all about it. But perhaps I should concentrate more on the good stories, ha!

  13. As a follow up to my comment, this is a fabulous article. Dr. Mate describes how peer orientation has taken the place of parental orientation and a great wake up call for us as parents. A good insight into why many may be saying parenting is too much work — it’s a cultural shift we need to guard against. It’s very insightful and informative. Has me wanting to buy and read the whole book. Hope you enjoy it.
    http://drgabormate.com/hold-on-to-your-kids-chapter-one/

  14. Your story about the indoor Olympics made me laugh…I had to stop getting all those parenting magazines because they were making me feel like a bad mom for not making dolls out of carrots and dump truck shaped cakes or tissue paper mobiles every single day. We held out on preschool for a long time simply because I felt like I didn’t want to dive into a million and a half activities for our kids when they were THREE. (And then I had the third one, lost my mind with PPD for a while, and now they’re enrolled in preschool.) I’ve always felt a little counter-cultural with our decision to not do one year old birthday parties (or birthday parties at all, really). It really is so much easier when you just let your kids be KIDS and play freely instead of feeling like you have to structure and plan every second of their lives.

    This whole post reminds me of the “Don’t Carpe Diem” post from Momastery that went viral on Facebook a while ago: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Lessons in Wifehood: God Gives "Accidents" On PurposeMy Profile

  15. This is a great post. I, for one, needed it. I have 3 small girls (6,5, and 23 months) and sometimes I feel like a terrible mother. I try to be like the good ‘internet’ mama (you know the one that is talked about on lots of websites… the ‘perfect’ one) and it ain’t working. When I stop trying and just have fun, my kids are so much happier :)… and so is Mama.
    Kelly recently posted…John 15: ‘Love Each Other’My Profile

  16. what a great post! I love it. Being a parent definitely has its challenges along the way, but the benefits and joy that come from it far outweigh the “bad points”.
    I also worry for the people that decide to never have children…who will be there to care for you as you get elderly. Knowing that I’ve raised wonderful kids who love me back is so important to me because I know they will be there when I need them down the road and they are grown. Such a cool wonderful cycle of life!!

    thank you for you post.

  17. Great article! I need to hear this; I often get into that self-induced pressure situation of feeling like I need to be Supermom.

    I really liked that your included “Ok to live in an apartment.” We are living in an apartment now, so we can save up money to build a house. We are committed to living with no debt and no mortgage so that means living in a small place for a while to save money. It gets discouraging sometimes when people (even close friends and family) say that we aren’t parenting our kids well enough because they don’t have a big backyard. Like our 1 year old daughter is not getting a good childhood because we don’t have our own patch of grass.

    Personally, my DH and I are much happier this way since we aren’t living beyond our means and owing a bank money on an underwater mortgage, and the kids love going to the park and the pool.
    Amanda recently posted…Seven YearsMy Profile

  18. Berjiboo says:

    My kids are only 5,4, and 2, but I find them more interesting and fun the older they get. When they are under 2, there are the cute baby snuggles, but there is also the baby howling with needs to be met and you can’t rationalize with them at all. As they get better at communicating (and playing rather than being entertained) they get more fun. It is a lot more fun to read Charlotte’s Web than Go Dog Go :) You can make jokes with them, you can actually do activities with them, rather than have them make the mess while you make the craft- sometimes. I can imagine the older they get the more interesting they will be.
    Funny you mention having them start with chores early. I did too. My 4 & 5 yr old fold the laundry regularly. The (sassy) 5 yr. old told me yesterday that she would rather be playing than folding laundry. I told her that if she wants me to read books to her, she needs to help out. If she wants me to take her swimming, she needs to pitch in too. Because we are a family & we work AND play together.

  19. Oh man, you validated my parenting style 100%! thank you!! I do feel guilty because so many other “perfect” moms seem to have all these balls in the air. What a great post!
    Jess@www.jessplusthemess.blogspot.com
    Jessica Ronne recently posted…LettersMy Profile

  20. Amen! We are trying to keep it simple, and part of that is teaching Peanut that he is under authority… our authority as we are under God’s authority. Not easy, but important and will, according to many sources, will make later on more enjoyable.

    We also decided that we wouldn’t buy Peanut any toys until he was at the point that he noticed that Mom and Dad weren’t buying him toys. See, we know that grandparents and friends would want to buy toys. (he is a tad over a year, and flooded with toys; I rotate them with some put away already). And the one toy I did buy, a small riding toy for outside… less than a week later, another family offered us a year loan of a small riding toy, a plastic slide, a see-saw, and a wagon (they had to move into an apartment for the year and had no where to put the items).

    We aim to lavish our love and attention on him, but he is expected to play by himself at times (which he does). And so far, parenting has been about 20% frustration and 80% joy!
    Rachael recently posted…Can I blame it on busyness?My Profile

  21. Thanks for sharing such a great post. I know that all of my mom friends need to be reminded of these things on a regular basis. Glad to read your insight, experience and wisdom.

    Megan
    Megan@DoNotDisturb recently posted…All About Boobies:My Profile

  22. I so so so needed this pep talk and shared with many too! Thank you Sheila!

  23. I was once told that my kids were missing out on a good childhood because I had never carved a pumpkin for Halloween with them. Really? I thought. That’s the make or break for this parenting thing? Whether I’m good at assembling craft supplies and doing holiday activities? At the time, I was lucky to get my kids bathed and dressed in matching clothes!

    I think it turned around for me on one particular day when I called my mother sobbing because I had forgotten to pack my child’s lunch and my child had gone without at school. I was an emotional mess, swearing that I was the worst mother ever. My wise mom reminded me that a bad mother wouldn’t care she had forgotten lunch and that my child would not remember this one little infraction in the large list of ways Mom had been there.

    Perspective. It’s about perspective. Love this article, Sheila! Thanks for the encouragement to focus on what’s important. (Oh yeah, and the tooth fairy needs to go back to paying a decent price per tooth, parents! It’s killing some of us out here by comparison.)
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Am I Obsessed with Sex? No. Are You?My Profile

  24. Dorothy says:

    I love this post! It really bothers me when parents complain about their children; they are such blessings from God! And the whole making parenting too big, well society definitely creates those expectations but each parent chooses whether or not to buy into that. I am more concerned about how God feels I am fulfilling my role as a mother to my children and a help meet to my husband than the snarky attitude our society can take towards parents who aren’t perfect. I’m 22 and I have 2 under 2, and believe you me it is HARD but so completely fulfilling and rewarding. I love being a parent and I would never ever change it or do anything different if I had the chance to do it over. Thank you for reminding us all it is okay to live small and to not be perfect. This was so needed for me today :)

  25. This is SO great and SO true! I completely agree with everything you said!!
    Nicole Elliott recently posted…Making A Rental Feel Like HomeMy Profile

  26. Awesome post Sheila!

    I am not a parent yet and it’s great reading encouraging insights.

    I am reminded of my single friends who are disillusioned about marriage because of all the things they have heard and seen. (That marriage is too much work, hustle and pain).

    A great marriage obviously takes hard work but we can’t be singing about the work all the time.

    I agree with you “the more expensive you make something, the less you will have of it. On the other hand, the easier that you make something, the more you will get of it.”

    We really can make our own lives, we don’t have to be like everyone else.

    Great post!
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…6 Life Lessons from Dr ChangMy Profile

  27. Megan G. says:

    I lost my temper with my oldest this morning and have been feeling awful about it all day. Nothing like yelling at them in the morning and then sending them to VBS to learn about Jesus. (I know – worst mom ever right here.) This parenting stuff is so HARD sometimes! I regularly plead with God to ‘redeem the years the locusts have eaten’ with my oldest. I have so much guilt about having PPD when he was a baby, not staying home with him until he was almost 3, yelling at him too much, not playing with him enough, etc, etc, etc. I love him so much, and I’m just not sure that he knows it.

  28. I know you get scads of comments, but I felt compelled to just say thank you for this post. I have 2 wonderful kiddos and I feel so blessed to get to be their mama, but you’re right… it’s hard! Your blogpost was comforting and I felt myself breathing easier as I read it. Thank you!
    Megan recently posted…ephesians 5 parentingMy Profile

  29. I completely agree! The expectations of parenting have become ridiculous. I’ve been to birthday parties where kids get more gifts than ours do at Christmas and I’ve seen family schedules so hectic that keeping up with them should be an Olympic sport. My boys swim and do the library’s summer reading club. They are very involved in church as well. That’s all – and they’re happy. They have time to play with Legos, ride bikes, and use their imaginations. They have chores to do as well, and as they get older, they have more responsibility. Kids need parents andlove – not stuff, not activities, and perfection. Thanks for such a great post.
    Amanda recently posted…Changing My PerspectiveMy Profile

  30. Stephanie says:

    We have seven children, have just moved to a new town, are living out of boxes, and my husband has been gone all month working out of state. Am I stressed? Yep! I fail at being the perfect, Michelle Duggar godly mom everyday, even when Hubby is home. I think that one thing serves to make me grumpier than any other–the fact that I want my kids to see Christ in me and I fail so miserably at it so much of the time.
    But I still would not change one iota of my life for a childless one. These same kids that are my greatest frustrAtion are my greatest joy, and the good far outweighs the bad. I can’t imagine Christmas morning without my kids–or any morning! Within the last few days my 19 month old drowned two rolls of toilet paper and sprayed them all over my bathroom, my three year old dumped all the USED cat litter all over the cat and the laundry room and pooped on the floor, and my five year old fell and split her chin on the tile, requiring me to wander into this largely (to me) unknown town to find someone to fix her. But God promises trials will work patience, experience, and hope in us. Those trials refine us and make us not only better parents, but better people. Those who are afraid to have kids because it might be hard are missing out.
    My sister was just here visiting and kept reiterating that she “could not do it”. Having kids and dealing with the frustrations. She is the person I do not say anything bad about my kids to. I am always telling her the cutest thing my kids do, etc because I don’t think she needs to hear about my frustrations with my kids. I tell her it is different when they’re your own. She doesn’t understand parenting and cannot give me one bit of practical advice, so all I would be doing is turning her off to the idea of kids altogether.

  31. As someone without kids as well, I have often felt like the commenter. But I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with “overparenting.”

    Thinking back to my childhood, my parents took very good care of us, but we were allowed to just be children a lot of the time. In the summer this means we weren’t enrolled in 17 different sports, clubs, or activities… we were left out in the backyard to dig in the sandbox, swing on the swings, or play tag with neighbor kids (but only after we had weeded our section of the family garden). I had a ridiculously idyllic childhood, and most of it was completely unscheduled. My church didn’t even have “VBS” and because of finances we didn’t usually attend summer camp.

    I feel like EVERYTHING about parenting right now is based on activities and competition. Moms especially are cut-throat about whose kids are doing what, how “advanced” they are, etc. It’s downright ridiculous. I have a friend for example whose daughter pitches for 2 different softball teams and is gone almost every night of the week, on top of her other activities… and she’s 10. It’s not that you *can’t* do that, but with how exhausting it is, I sometimes look at the obviously tired parents and want to ask if it’s worth it. When did parenting stop being about just providing a safe environment for your children to learn and play, with gentle guidance and discipline along the way?

  32. Thank you for this post, Sheila. I needed to hear it. I have been a SAHM for 10 years now and my children are 10,8.5, and 5.5. I think I have finally found the delicate balance between letting the kids just be kids while also providing them with opportunities to learn new things (the rule in my house is 1 sport and 1 instrument). However, I am wondering what one is to do when it is the spouse who is the perfectionist? Over the past few years, my husband has decided that the children need to be learning and excelling at everything they do 24/7. He has a long list of homework and projects to be completed over the summer. He wants them to be busy at all times. When I took them to the beach yesterday he complained that it was a waste of their time and they should have been learning something instead. He will not leave them with a babysitter so we can have time together, either. Any suggestions? I have been praying about this for a long time. Attempts to discuss end up in arguments that last for many days. I will be returning to work teaching Full Time in the fall and am wondering how this will play out.

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Parents Don’t Have to Be Perfect – This is such great encouragement for moms who have started feeling like parenting is too big a job for them. [...]

  2. [...] Parents Don’t Have to be Perfect- This post from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has an excellent list of reality checks and a lot of grace for parents struggling under the (false) expectation of perfection. [...]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge