“Parents love their children, but they also really want them to succeed. And if the kids do something the parents think will lead to success, the beam of love beams stronger. And if they do something the parents think will not lead to success, the beam of love is withdrawn.”
No parent needs to be told that parenting isn’t about perfection. Or that they will never be a perfect parent. Somewhere inside we all know that. The problem is that we don’t KNOW it.
We give that reality lip service, but still believe even deeper inside of ourselves that we can be perfect. We can make these little kids we are responsible the most obedient, most courteous, most successful, most excellent children that have ever walked the face of the earth. And then we do everything in our power to make that happen.
Is that right? Is it fair? These aren’t questions parents think about. The idea of perfect, or at the very least, better than the rest, is too enticing for anyone to question it. But there is one question that must not be ignored. One question that followers of Jesus need to take seriously if they are going to be, or already are, parents.
Is demanding perfection from your children consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
This is the thought that has held Jim Daly, current President and CEO of Focus On The Family, captive for a while. Was demanding that his two sons act and perform to a high, even unattainable standard in line with a gospel of mercy and forgiveness for fallen people? Would perfection and grace work hand in hand, or would they run contrary to one another?
And which should we as Christian parents adhere to when we raise our children?
When Parenting Isn’t Perfect is Daly’s walk through the revelations that he has seen as a parent and as a leader that seeks to help other people parent well. His own family isn’t perfect, and his stories show that clearly, but that isn’t the point. Parents aren’t supposed to make perfect little people. They are supposed to help raise and guide little people to learn and grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.
How does that happen? How do we work through the nagging feeling that we need to have the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram worthy looking family all the time? How do we work out the perfectionism that is rooted in our own hearts?
It will require some changing in our thinking. We’ll need to take the gospel to all parts of our lives. And as parents will have to embrace the messiness and chaos that comes with the territory of being a mother and father. When Parenting Isn’t Perfect is the perfect place to see grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love flow freely.
“Parenting isn’t engineering. It’s not a science.
It’s chaotic and unpredictable and messy from the first day on.”
I knew I wasn’t a perfect parenting going into this book. I knew that being a parent wasn’t easy, and that I had failed and would fail to live up to any idea of a perfect father. Most parents share those thoughts. But I never realized how deep down it went, not in how I react to my kids, but how I react to me. As parents, we don’t just demand perfection from our kids, we demand it of ourselves. Daly shed light on that in myself, and it has changed how I respond to many things that happen in my household.
Jim Daly’s observations are so simple, and yet profound. How obvious it might seem that we need to be showing our kids the same grace and love that we preach about on Sunday, but how often we will refuse it to those children Monday through Saturday.
While readers may be quick to assume that Daly is standing on a pedestal and condemning all Christians for their shortcomings, this is a case of side by side preaching. Daly has the same problems with demanding perfection from his kids and himself as the rest of us. And he is quick to tell you that, and tell you that often. He does this not to satisfy some guilt, but as a way of illustrating how prevalent this issue is, and how it effects everyone. Even the Christians that make a living out of helping other Christians parent well.
Daly’s easy going style is the same as you would find in his other books. He is a man that is well educated, but capable of keeping you being bored or bogged down when it comes to sharing the information and stats. But this book stands out from his other works in a unique way. He is currently dealing with this issue. This isn’t “Jim Daly talking about dealing with infants” when his kids are teenagers. This is “Jim Daly talking about the trap of perfectionism as it relates to his immediate life situation” and how it is applicable to your own.
What Daly is proposing isn’t easy. Reading the book might take a couple days; the application will take a lifetime. Perfectionism runs deep in our bones and our culture. This is an issue that needs to be regularly addressed and worked on. Daly’s discussion of perfectionism, how it contradicts the Gospel, and what we can do to combat it is timeless. This will not age as the years go by, or as your kids move from one stage in development to the next.
When Parenting Isn’t Perfect is the last parenting book you will ever need, but it is definitely one of the first that new and old parents should have on their shack of books to read.
“Families are…like gardens. They can be messy, dirty places filled with weeds and bugs, too much water, too much sun. They require work and patience and often a willingness to get knee-deep in mud. It also helps to have a sense of humor as you tend to them.
But gardening is also an act of trust. An act of faith. Underneath the earth, a miracle grows – one that has less to do with you and more to do with God. You can’t make a seed sprout. You can’t force it to flower. Your job is to help the miracle along.”
When Parenting Isn’t Perfect is not a perfect parenting book, but it does hit on something that most Parenting books miss. The overwhelming desire to have perfect kids and a perfect family is something that is very real and more prevalent than Christians will admit. Jim Daly illustrates how this idea of perfection is crippling our families and our faith, and helps parents with kids of all ages to find a better, healthier, and more Gospel-reflective way of raising a family.
This is a great book that new parents will find helpful as they start making habits and patterns for the future. Parents with kids already will have a shoulder to leave on in Jim Daly as a parent that has shifted his thinking and actions in life of these revelations.
The latest book to come from Jim Daly, When Parenting Isn’t Perfect, should be on the nightstand of every parent. I give this book a 5 out of 5-star rating.