936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” proclaimed Thomas Edison, in response to being asked how he felt about repeatedly failing to design a working light bulb.
How often do we feel that way in our parenting? As if we’ve failed 10,000 times? Lunch left on the counter, again. “Masterpieces” dug out of the trash by the crestfallen artist. Angry words better left unsaid.
What if we saw our mistakes in light of God’s grace? As opportunities to rely on His love and forgiveness when we’re overwhelmed by feelings of failure? No matter how intentional we are, mistakes will be made. No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect; because only God never fails.
As a teacher in the classroom, I’ve seen how perfectionism immobilizes students’ attempts to spell words while creating stories. Handwriting papers bear holes where erasers have tried to make space for the perfect stroke of the pencil. Tears replace joy for their best attempts.
Edison could be the poster child for my kindergarten classroom motto, “Mistakes are for learning.” Each year I tell my students we want to learn a lot so we will probably make a lot of mistakes.
This is a far cry from how I was raised.
Growing up, I was afraid to make a mistake. My father was harsh and demanding. I was the fourth of five children; a middle child desperate to keep peace at all costs. My mother would walk into a rowdy room and ask “What’s wrong?” instead of “What’s going on?” It seemed she was always trying to find out who was to blame and I never wanted it to be my fault. Consequently, at an early age my tender spirit was strangled by a fear of failure, propelling me into the world of a perfectionist. Or rather, a “discouraged perfectionist” according to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book.
A discouraged perfectionist wants to be perfect but realizes it’s not possible, so why try? Anxiety and fear characterized much of my childhood and young adult life. Sadly, I’m pretty sure I passed these tendencies along to my children. Then I met Jesus and he freed my weary, worried soul.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Enter God’s grace…divinely influencing my heart and changing my life.
Enter trust in the Lord… bringing irresistible peace despite the future unknowns.
Enter power from His Holy Spirit…replacing wrong thought patterns and creating new paths for truth.
Enter prayer…communicating with the author and perfecter of my faith and the lover of my soul.
If Christ no longer condemns me, then I shouldn’t fear making a mistake, right? Sounds logical, but not always easy to live out.
Advice from counselors, bloggers, child psychiatrists, and developmental experts is available at our fingertips through the internet. Information abounds on most every issue a parent will ever face. Unfortunately, fear seems to grow with the options instead of freeing me to parent with confidence.
Is breast or bottle best? Will co-sleeping or a regimented sleep schedule create the security we long to see in our children? Which school environment will meet our child’s academic, spiritual, and social needs? How much screen time is appropriate for developing brains?
When my four-year old wanted to quit tumbling class I feared it would turn her into a “quitter”, so I made her stick it out. She hated every minute of it. Quitting something isn’t always the answer, but neither is staying for the wrong reasons. I learned to wait until my children were older to enroll in expensive organized activities.
Feeling like an epic failure when my teen aged daughter moved out of our home, I searched the scriptures, sought counsel and prayed. Confessing my failures in communication built a bridge to better understanding when she returned home. Together we learned from our mistakes and crossed the bridge to a beautifully restored relationship.
Graciously, God gives His children every opportunity to learn from mistakes. Thomas Edison did and he was rewarded with his goal. Failure is never permanent and doesn’t have to carry scars. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Through His Word He supplies everything we need for life and godliness. The Message paraphrase puts it this way, “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another-showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
So what’s a parent to do? Take a deep breath, pray, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
Through the Word of God you are equipped for the task God has for you: to raise your children to know, love, and serve Him. When failures come along the way, you can be sure that the Lord will forgive and teach you; after all, mistakes are for learning.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!