Saturday, January 17, 2015

Practically Perfect Parenting

Over 20 years ago, when our daughter was small, I felt a lot of pressure (whether real or perceived) to live by a certain set of standards in order to be a good parent.  I pretty much failed miserably at every bullet point of the Practically Perfect in Everyway Christian Parents' Manifesto.  Do not go looking for this piece of literature propaganda, because not only does it not exist, but each generation develops and attempts to enforce a new, improved creed.  As I look back on my feeble attempts to fit into the mold, not created by God but by fellow sisters in Christ and myself, I chuckle at my failures, grieve over the heartbreak that I allowed myself to feel, and wonder in what ways I have pressured my fellow sisters rather than build them up.  Maybe this is not your story and you have no idea what I'm talking about, or perhaps it is your story and you don't realize it yet.  Let's look at some of the crazy values I believed were necessary to be a good Christian parent.

  • You must breastfeed your child.  This is indeed a good value, but not breastfeeding your little one does not make you a bad parent.  For some women, it's just not possible.  For me, I had Strep B at delivery and I am highly allergic to almost all antibiotics.  By the time I finally was cleared of the infection that nearly claimed both our lives and finished with the antibiotics, it was too late.  Did that make me a bad mom? No, but nonetheless I still felt guilt and remorse because I had failed before I had even begun.
  • You must use cloth diapers.  Again, it is a good value, but not doing so does not mean you hope the environment, your budget, and your baby's bum go to Hell perdition in a hand basket.  Yes, it is more economical, environmentally friendly, and healthful, but circumstances do not always allow this to happen.  It had been my goal to use only cloth diapers, but real life happened.
  • You must homeschool your child.  Nailed this one!  After all, I was one of the pioneer homeschool kids in the late 70's and early 80's.  Oh, wait! You have to be a "relaxed" homeschooler and let them learn naturally.  No, wait! You have to use a twaddle-free classical approach and study logic and Latin.  Oh, no!  You have to focus on only homemaking skills.  Stop the madness!!!! Each child is different and there is no one size fits all approach to education, home or government schooled.  While homeschooling is great and I loved every minute of it, I do not believe it is for everyone.
  • You must sew your & your child's clothing.  I am a LOUSY seamstress!  Don't believe me?  Ask our daughter about a few of the homemade dresses she was forced to wear.  I do believe everyone should know how to sew on a button and hem a pair of pants because you never know when an "emergency" will pop up, but in all honesty, the ability to sew beautifully does not make you a good parent.
I could make a list a mile long and I could apply this concept to all of life....including being a good wife and what constitutes a healthy diet, but don't EVEN get me started...these little tick points are not evil things, but they are not what constitutes "good." 

When our daughter was an infant, a well-meaning woman in our congregation politely informed me that if I kept shoes and socks on our baby (who was only in socks at the time) at all times, she would never suffer an ear infection.  She also let me know that by making our daughter's baby food instead of using jarred commercially produced food, that I was depriving our baby of important nutrients.  Ummmm, no?  My husband reassured me that those little things are not what makes a good parent, but rather my relationship with Christ and who I am as a person is what makes a good parent.  What about you?  Are you unknowingly pressuring yourself or others to fit into a mold that, while good, is not spelled out in Scripture?  Let us be careful to never add to or take away from God's Word.

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