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Parenting is the hardest job in the world, as any parent will attest. Why is it then that we somehow have the idea that it’s our responsibility to be perfect at it, and that if any of our children don’t meet our expectations, we have failed?

A dear friend recently shared with me an ENLIGHTENED MOMENT that she had about parenting. She had been lamenting the fact that now that most of her children were raised, she finally felt like she had a “handle” on parenting. She thought, “It’s such a shame that I couldn’t have understood these principals while I was raising my kids.”  While in that VERY thought, her understanding was opened and her mind was enlightened. The voice of the Spirit poured through her mind, saying:

“It isn’t a shame, but a cause to rejoice! You have improved and grown. It is not the plan for children to be born to perfect parents, but that through parenting you learn important and true principles and experience personal growth.   It is ok if your children aren’t perfect when they leave your home. Your children’s growth does not end after they are raised, but continues just like yours has, and as they parent their own children, they will continue to learn and grow. In fact, some lessons are better learned as a parent, than as a child. You have already had the experience of being raised by perfect parents in the pre-existence. Now this earth life is a new experience for you, and being a perfect parent is not in the plan.”

As Good As We Know How To Be

Looking back on my child-rearing years, I can see that policies and behaviors I advocated and believed were right at the time, were not.   I was trying my best, but my best wasn’t always enough for their needs. Can any human ever do enough? I don’t think so, but the good news is that the Lord never requires us to do better than our best. This life is not just about us spiritually preparing our children, but it is also about them teaching and refining US.

God’s Perspective

We have to look at things from God’s perspective. He is trying to orchestrate growth and progression into our Being. Frustration and challenge are built into this telestial trial, and the world is here explicitly for us to experience things going wrong.  How will we handle each new situation? How will we respond to our child’s needs when OUR needs are unmet? Our homes are a perfect place for this laboratory of experience to occur.

The BREAKTHROUGHS in our family laboratory experiment will ALWAYS occur when we are able to come to a place where we can realize that WE are the ones that need to change. This change comes only after surrendering our circumstance to God, and asking Him to help us repent, forgive and love. Peace and sweetness follow. These principles are foundational for US to spiritually progress;(independent of how our children are behaving)

Deep and Beautiful

This inner shift creates an opening into something profound and beautiful. We can learn to love the way God loves; to love someone no matter what they say, no matter what they do.   What an education!   Christ’s atonement is meant to make up for our inadequacies, and if we ask, can be applied to our un-perfect parenting.

Sometimes the love that we naturally have for our children is not enough, especially in turbulent times. They may choose to not accept our gestures of love, and even reject them, but we need to always pray that God’s unconditional love will flow through us to them. This act grows our soul!

How to Maximize Our Learning

The way we can maximize our learning as a parent is to be humble. Are we humble enough to repent and admit when we’re wrong?   Humility is the bottom line to ALL spiritual experience as well as ALL growth and progress. It helps us do what we are called to do. No matter how difficult our children may seem, one of their purposes is to stretch us to the limit!

If we have sincerely repented, when we make mistakes, then that’s all the Lord requires. It cleans and clears us out, so that we can be filled with peace, even if our child doesn’t choose to forgive us. Ether said, “…If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong…” (Ether 12:37)    

We can’t always control the behaviors of our children, but our own behaviors we are fully responsible for.   If we have bad feelings, it’s OUR job to get rid of them, – no one else’s! The Lord will strengthen our weakness when we ask for His help.

Do I Recognize That My Children Are My Greatest Teachers  

What have you learned from your children?   How have you grown from them? You have sacrificed your time, money, sleep, and comfort for their well-being. You were given exactly the right children to bring out your best AND your worst! Even in difficult cases, – ESPECIALLY in difficult cases, there is exponential growth to be had if we are humble enough to recognize it and work for it.   Isn’t it a beautiful plan?

James E. Faust said: “Let parents who have been conscientious, loving, and concerned and who have lived the principles of righteousness as best they could be comforted in knowing that they are good parents despite the actions of some of their children… Some few children could tax even Solomon’s wisdom and Job’s patience.” (James E. Faust The Greatest Challenge in the World- Good Parenting Oct.)

WE CAN THANK GOD FOR SUCH CHILDREN!  The more difficult the child, the more profound the growth of the parent, if they are open to the Lord’s intervention.

Who We Can Become

Elder Uchtdorf wisely said: “My dear brothers and sisters, if we look at ourselves only through our mortal eyes, we may not see ourselves as good enough. But our Heavenly Father sees us as who we truly are and who we can become. He sees us as His sons and daughters, as beings of eternal light with everlasting potential and with a divine destiny.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “It Works Wonderfully! General Conference Oct. 2015)   Let’s view ourselves this way as parents.

The question isn’t “How perfect am I as a parent?” but “How much do I repent, forgive and love.”  If we have applied these principles in our parenting, we will have spiritually expanded in the way we were designed to do. Our children will need to learn the same lessons, and most likely will learn them as they rear their own children. It IS a beautiful plan- and in the process we become more perfect each day.

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