I’ve seen this meme going around Facebook a few times, and every single time, it’s irked me so much I’ve been sorely tempted to step up on my soapbox and let ‘er rip. Somehow, though, I managed to summon all my powers of self-control and refrained. *pats self on back*
Then I realized that while it might not make for great conversation on Facebook, it certainly provides food for thought and a great platform for a blog post. (Not the same thing as a soapbox at all, I assure you.)
Here’s the thing: In my most humble opinion, this stated goal of motherhood is a pointless bunch of gobbledygook. While it sounds nice and even semi-meaningful, the logic starts breaking down into pieces when you start to analyze it.
Why do I disagree with this meme so much? Oh, let me count the ways.
It Doesn’t Account For Your Child’s Personality
Every person is different. Every person interacts with other people differently. Every child responds differently than their siblings to their parents.
Two siblings can look back on the same childhood, raised by the same parents, with the same rules and regulations (or lack thereof), and have completely different perspectives. I have observed this in my own family, as well as my husband’s family. My siblings and I view certain aspects of our parent’s child-rearing very differently; so do my husband and his brother. Sometimes, even reflecting on the exact same incident can bring differing emotions and viewpoints from each person involved.
The point? There’s absolutely no way you can predict how your child will respond to and react to your parenting. It won’t be obvious during the child-rearing years because most people don’t form a firm opinion of their childhood until they are adults (or close to it). You simply cannot know how your child will perceive your method and manner of raising them.
Besides the fact that it’s impossible to know how your child will eventually one day view his or her childhood, an even greater issue is that you cannot force your child to view you in the ideal way you would prefer. Each child is an individual with the right and responsibility to develop their own outlook and attitude on life. Certainly, part of parenting is helping them shape their attitudes so they can function more fully in life, but ultimately, the choice is theirs.
Even if you did everything right in your parenting – you were gentle at the right times, you were firm at the right times, you always had a smile on your face and love in your heart, and you never ever raised your voice – your child might choose to view you differently. In spite of your perfect parenting, your child might choose to believe that you were selfish and insensitive, or demanding and controlling.
In short, maybe your child will have a bad attitude about your parenting despite your best efforts. Maybe that bad attitude will turn into bitterness. Who knows? He or she is an individual and will make their own choices one day.
Of course, you might say, “Well, if I did my parenting right, I would teach my child not to have such a bad attitude.” Well. That brings us to the next point.
It Assumes You Can Do Everything Right
Right here is my biggest issue with this meme: It assumes that somehow it’s possible to be a perfect parent. Guess what? You’re not a perfect person, so how could you ever be a perfect parent?
I hate to break it to you, sweetie, but you’re gonna mess up sometimes. On occasion, you’re gonna mess up BIG! It’s called the human condition. And it’s called sin. And it’s all the result of the fallen state of man.
My point is this: no matter how hard you try, you’re going to mess up your parenting, and there’s a chance you might even mess it up big time. You’re a human, and you’re trying to raise a human. There’s a lot of room for error there!You're a human, and you're trying to raise a human. There's a lot of room for error there! Click To Tweet
No matter what, there are elements of childhood that your child is going to have to “recover” from. Maybe not in a dramatic way that requires therapy and counseling, but in smaller ways that require attitude adjustments and shifts in perspective. As an adult, haven’t you had to sift through some of your childhood experiences, and work through the ways they affected you? I’m not saying every person has a horrible childhood, I’m just saying all of us have things we might wish our parents did differently.
It’s a Negative Goal
It’s much better to reach forward toward something than to try to avoid something. Positive goals are much easier to achieve because they automatically create definite steps of action you can take.
Basically, a negative goal says, “I don’t want to fail”, whereas a positive goal says, “I want to succeed”. The positive goal is much more effective because it gives you direction and purpose, whereas a negative goal does nothing but pressure you.
In other words, saying, “I don’t want to be a bad parent”, is going to get you nowhere fast. You’ll go the direction in which your eyes are focused, so in the end that’s exactly what you’re going to be.
Instead, you need something that starts with a positive framework like, “I want to be a good parent”. When your eyes are focused forward, that’s where you’ll go!
The Real Goal of Motherhood
So what’s a worthy goal of motherhood? If I made the meme, it would look something like this:
If I had to sum up all my hopes and dreams of motherhood, they would all boil down to this. I want my children to see my walking in grace, and I want them to get such a taste of God’s grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that they hunger and thirst after it and will settle for nothing less.
I’m not a perfect parent. I don’t have perfect children. But I have a perfect God. And that’s all I need.I'm not a perfect parent. I don't have perfect children. But I have a perfect God. And that's… Click To Tweet