Friday, February 26, 2010

How to be a successful parent (or not)

How do we measure what a successful parent looks like?

Today is not a day of particularly great parenting success for me.  In fact I think I have failed.  Yet again!  I dropped my Kindy child at school and as I drove off I saw the other Kindy kids in dress-ups.  Oh no!  It was dress up as a nursery rhyme character day.  But I didn't have time to do anything about it because the oldest child was due at a doctor's appointment.

Yesterday I failed when I yelled at my oldest child for not being ready to go to school early.  He couldn't find his hat and this was my fault (apparently).  And I got really frustrated with him.

Sometimes I feel like parenting is a very long exam.  And it is an exam that many times it looks like I will fail.

However, I do have those days when I think I might scrape through.  My kids getting awards at Speech Day ("congratulations Jenny - your kids did so well"), or a good piano performance ("wow - your kids are so talented Jenny") or an intelligent answer to a question at church ("Good on you, you've taught them so well Jenny").   When life is full of compliments like these, I think, "it's OK ... I'm passing ... phew" (which is a bit silly anyway, because these are my kid's achievements - not mine).

But what about the rest of the time?  The less public stuff.  The siblings who fight?  The toddler who refuses to eat anything healthy without a long battle?  The child procrastinates about homework until the 11th hour? The sister who yells that she hates her family - loudly and often?  The nights when they finally go to bed and you just feel sheer relief?  Where's the successful parenting in all that mess?

Surely parenting shouldn't be an exam.  An exam where we feel like we're either passing or failing.  Where I'm either feeling like a 'good' mother or a 'hopeless' mother.    And how do you measure that anyway?

Ultimately, parenting can't just be about ME.  It is not about whether or not I get congratulated.  It is not about whether or not I get critcised for disruptive kids.  It is about my KIDS.  It is about them growing up to be their own person.  It is about me being faithful and caring for them with consistency and love.  And that may not necessarily bring great glory to me.  In fact, it might give great shame to me.  Especially as they grow older and make decisions I might not like that much.

Parenting is such a long and complex process.  Why do I measure the outcomes of such a complicated business by a few good or bad days?

3 comments:

Sarah Condie said...

Jenny, I am sorry you have had such a hard few days, but there is much wisdom in what you openly acknowledge here in your post. Sometimes at the end of a day when I felt like a complete failure as a Mum, the thing that kept me going was remembering how much God loved me - regardless of how I saw myself as a mother or wife. He still loved me and when repented and said sorry to Him and to my children - there was forgiveness and a clean fresh start. i could go to bed and wake up in the morning to a fresh new day and try again.

Admittedly, there were lots of try again, but isn't that what life is about? Remembering God's grace and forgiveness and resting in it.

Hang in there Jenny, your labours are not in vain!

Jo said...

Thanks for sharing Jenny, this post is very timely for me, I have had 2 massive bad mother moments this week.
Maybe our kids will grow up more resilient if we aren't perfect mothers, lol!!

Jenny said...

Glad you found my sharing timely Jo. I'm sure our kids will be a lot more independent and resilient if we don't get it 'right' all the time!