“P is for penis,” my 4-year old said as loudly as he could, while I was chauffeuring a friend and her mom around town! Mortified was the understatement of the year. While I was so excited he absolutely was paying attention to my homeschool lesson last week on the letter “P”, I was thinking pumpkin, popcorn, potatoes would’ve been a more appropriate word, but he thought otherwise. So I’m apologizing profusely to my friend’s mom and friend, and embarrassment and shame engulfed me. But why?
Why couldn’t my kids behave especially when it “mattered”, out in public, playdates, even restaurants, we expect them to sit like militants taking good bites, hands in their laps, definitely not picking their noses, knocking over drinks accidentally, or moving around lots.
I really struggled after the “penis” incident and felt a huge conviction. This idea that our kids have to be perfect, perfect athletes practicing 5 times a week at age 5, perfect students reciting every state and capital by age 3, perfect little “adults” sitting nicely and quietly while adults chat it up. That’s when I realized “the Big Parent Lie”: how well our kids perform (or behave) dictates our parenting abilities. If our kids aren’t perfect, of course that means we are “BAD PARENTS”.
Here’s how that plays out: “I’m a bad mom if I send my children to public school after homeschooling for 5 years.” “I’m a bad mom if my kids misbehave in front of others or out in public.” “I’m a bad dad if my kid isn’t the star soccer player on the team” since of course kids are little “reflections” of us. Or it can be “I’m a bad parent if…..(you fill in the blank).
Our daughter is taking softball for the first time this year, and I remember her first practice. Can I be honest here? She wasn’t the best, but she tried and loved it. I remember calling the coach and asking for extra private lessons, so she wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Awful right? I remember thinking “Oh no, she’s not excelling in this. Perhaps softball just isn’t her thing.” I instantly felt convicted. Why in the world do we live in a society where we put this unnecessary pressure on ourselves and our kids to ALWAYS BE THE BEST! I’m not saying our kids have to mediocre. Our kids should practice and work hard at whatever they do. They should listen to their coaches, (and not us yelling from the stands and sidelines), and they should give it their all. She’s improved so much, but you know what? Who cares if she’s not the best one on the team! How well she performs doesn’t determine whether I’m a great parent or not!
Another lie we have to dispel is our kids have to take every sport and activity barely leaving time to spend with our spouses, serve our communities, or even get laundry done! God forbid our kids only take one activity at a time because what will they do with the rest of their time! 🙂 I made that mistake years ago. We have four kids now, but we only had one then! She was in every activity under the sun, piano on this day, gymnastics on the next day, ballet on another day. It left no room for margin, serving, and I was burned out from all her activities that I SIGNED her up for!
Feeling that if our kids aren’t perfect, in every activity, excelling at everything their hands touch, star student, great grades, behaving like a machine at every turn, then we aren’t good parents is a lie that as a society we’ve embraced. Maybe you’re better than I, but I believed this lie for years, until I said…enough is enough. Our kids will be who God created them to be. They will do great things where God has gifted them. They will work hard because we are called to be good stewards, but God chose us to parent our children.
He handpicked us because He knew our children needed us to guide them and love them. Our children are His children, and we are to allow them to make mistakes, and say, “P is for penis”, so that we can correct them in love. Our kids are not mini adults, they are children: fun, full of energy, and life. And instead of trying to make them who we want them to be, let’s point them to Jesus and allow Him to do that because He has the perfect plan for your child.
So let’s not feed into the Big Parent Lie that if our children aren’t perfect, then we are bad parents. We are great parents because God chose us to parent AND to PARENT WELL! He has equipped you (YES YOU), with all the necessary tools to disciple and lead your children. They don’t have to do tons of activities. They NEED YOU. The best you that only you can give them! So let’s parent well, and dispel the BIG PARENT LIE, one LESS activity and one less “p is for penis” at a time! 🙂
Until next time friends,
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