The Parenting Comparison Game

Posted by | July 06, 2018 | Family Ministry | No Comments

So today I woke up bright and early, made breakfast for everyone, had my morning devotional (in the original Greek language), ran 10 miles, got the kids up to eat the breakfast I made earlier, got ready while they were eating and wouldn’t you know it that they surprised me by cleaning up all the dishes from the breakfast and then getting ready on their own! We piled into the car to head to __________ (insert whatever lesson or practice you’d like) and they sang Bible songs on the way…they are just so precious.
While we were at __________ (whatever lesson or practice you chose) they were perfect angels. Not only that but they ended up teaching the lesson/practice because they worked so hard at home! We then piled back in the car to head home and on the way home started quoting Scripture and writing sermons. At home they voluntarily cleaned the entire house, learned a dead language and blah blah blah.

Seriously? Come on man! I don’t care how nice you make your family look on Instagram there is no way anyone’s family is perfect. I don’t care how many likes, hearts, views, subscribes you get no one’s family is amazing all the time.

Take a breath. Slow down. Parenting can be hard without adding unrealistic expectations to it.

Working with families for almost 20 years I’ve never met a parent that didn’t want to be the best parent they could be. But, one of the main problems (specifically behind the scenes) and getting worse with social media is the problem of comparison.

So many parents are feeling the pressure of having a perfect family and kids and then when they don’t, they feel as if they’ve failed.

I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all. As a matter of fact, it’s often a lie.

Here are a few things we’ve learned and embraced over the years that could help you as well.

You will fail.

God didn’t bless you with your kids expecting perfection. So why do we expect to be perfect? Stop. Right now. Just stop.

You will fail. Say it out loud. Embrace it.

You. Will. Fail.

I guarantee it. Sometimes it’ll be a little failure and other times it will be really big, but it will happen. How you respond is way more important. We’re all going to say or do things, as parents, that we will regret.

I’ve yelled when I should have talked. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I have let words come out of my mouth, in front of my kids, that they should not have heard. My attitude has really sucked sometimes. I’ve been a jerk to people in front of my kids. I’ve lost my temper. The list could probably go on and on.

But my response made the difference. My kids know I’m not perfect. When I screw up I will apologize to them. It may take a conversation with my wife but I will go to them and ask for their forgiveness.

Apologizing to my kids when I’m wrong has gone a long way to building a real, meaningful relationship with them. Even more so with my teenager.

Cut yourself some slack.

Parents…hear me when I say this…WE ALL SUCK SOMETIMES! I do, you do, Instagram mom does. All of us. So cut yourself some slack.

It’s not the end of the world when we mess up. Our children will survive our bad attitudes, our bad days, our bad behaviors.

Stop looking at social media as a guide and comparing your “behind the scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel”. It’s not fair to you and will do nothing but suck the joy out of parenthood. Instead, know that it probably took 35 minutes, a couple of melt downs and a little bit of bribery for that family to get that picture on there.

Asking for help is not weakness.

I don’t know where this idea came from but it’s TOTALLY WRONG!

My wife and I have been incredibly blessed to watch and talk and learn and grow into parenthood with some phenomenal families. Over the years we were able to pick their brains, to sit and talk with, to ask any questions…and it’s been amazing!

One of the things I believed growing up was that my parents had all the answers. And now that I’m a parent I realized they had no idea what they were doing. They just did it really well! We’re all in the same boat. All of us doing the best they can with what they have. And if we, especially as a church body, can’t be real with each other than how can we expect to do this parenting thing?

No one likes to admit they need help but I’m not going to let that get in the way of my kids!

Discipleship isn’t as hard as you think.

Churches like to talk about discipling your kids but what does that even mean? And it sounds so serious. But the reality is far more organic and life driven then we make it out to be.

Discipling our children does entail sharing God’s Word with them, including them in serving in the local church and in the community, teaching them what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But most of the time, it’s taking what life throws at us and showing our kids the practicality of being followers.

That means allowing them to see age appropriate weaknesses, wins and fails. It’s doing life with them and showing them that following Jesus is about clinging to Him in our day to day. Going to Him like we expect our kids to come to us. Helping them see God not as a cosmic tyrant but as a loving Father.

And when we do fail? Then we get to show them what grace and forgiveness looks like.

Parents…our task isn’t an easy one. It can be overwhelming at times. It can be lonely and isolating. And it can have incredibly difficult seasons. But God has equipped us for this. Sometimes that comes in just our attitudes, sometimes in reaching out to a friend and sometimes in a class, book or sermon series. We are all in this together!

So how have you dealt with the challenges of parenting? What resources are your go to’s? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at joe@shift-church.com and let us know what you think!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.