Parenting. This has to be one of the hardest jobs on the planet! You’re constantly surrounded by these little eyes always observing and taking in the environment around them. Not only are these inquisitive souls learning about the world and you, they are using this information to figure out who they are and how they fit in, which will eventually form the basis of who they will become. Whew! That’s serious business, and who do you think is responsible for providing this life-altering environment? Parents.
From a logical standpoint, naturally this means the goal of parenting is to strive for flawless parenting skills in a stress-free/problem-free home. After all, it would stand to reason, a perfect home = perfect well-adjusted children. While it sounds like a lovely plan, it’s far from being realistic.
First of all, have you ever thought about what it would take to produce the perfect home? Parents would have to create an environment with a specific type of communication style, parenting philosophy, and sibling interaction, etc., dedicated to each child (since all children have individual needs). That’s just scratching the surface! There are many other emotional and physical demands that are necessary to raising children. And since children do not come with instruction manuals, that means you’d have to find this information all on your own.
Secondly, parents would have to be perfect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many parenting books and self-help classes you take, those unresolved childhood issues, bad habits, and sinful nature (each equipped with a trigger button that teens develop a wonderful skill of finding) always have a way of creeping into your daily life.
But let’s say a miracle took place and you were able to create that ideal home and keep those personal issues at bay. What would you really gain? That little angel looking up at you with innocent eyes has a raging sinful nature, too, just itching to get out. So even if you could manage to overcome your self-seeking ways and become that perfect parent, that doesn’t mean your child would (or would even want to) become your perfect son or daughter!
As you can see, this quest for perfection is fighting an uphill battle that is sure to end with a lot of depression, guilt, and a string of failed attempts at impossible standards (hmm…much like my earlier parenting years).
What exactly does this frustrating scenario mean for us? It means that we should thank God that His ways are not our ways and He did not form this world based upon on our logic!
You see, God never expected us to be perfect. He knows everything about us, including those secret imperfections we hide from others. Because of this, He knows our lives will be filled with mistakes (huge ones!) and that we will constantly need His help in sorting it out.
But while He may not expect perfect parenting from us, He does call us to transparent parenting.
What does transparency mean?
I think back to my high school geometry class.
A transparency is that thin sheet of clear plastic that the teacher would place on the overhead projector. The projector bulb illuminated whatever was on the sheet and projected it onto the screen in front of the class. The teacher would take her black marker and write the problem down on the transparency. Step by step we would watch her solve the equation. That way, we could compare it with our own homework and learn how to solve the problem the correct way.
That’s what transparent parenting is all about. It’s about parents allowing the Light of God to flow through their life, illuminating their souls, flaws and all.
You may be thinking, “What? That means my children will know I don’t have it all together!”
Transparent parents aren’t afraid to admit their shortcomings to their children. They understand:
- This reinforces the message that people, young and old, need God in their lives.
- This teaches that mistakes are actually learning opportunities. What better way for children to learn how to cope with mistakes than to see their parents modeling constructive ways to make the best out of bad situations? Parents can even model how to repent and make reparation when necessary.
- They hold the power to normalize failure as a part of the learning process. The focus then remains on learning and not only on achievement. Therefore when a child fails at something, their self-esteem remains intact.
- This promotes self-awareness and self-acceptance, which in turn promotes healthier relationships.
Transparency is a valuable skill in parenting. It is the epitome of modeling and living out what you want from your children. While perfectionism sounds good in our logic, it’s actually a condemning prison that holds both parent and child in chains.
The next time you’re tempted to hide your mistake from your child, give transparency a try. It’s a liberating experience that is sure to enrich both the lives of you and your child.