As a new parent, I have quickly noticed that everyone has an opinion about the best way to raise my child. Authors, other parents, parishioners, and even strangers on the street are quick to offer advice or criticism of my parenting. As if this were not enough, society tells parents that they are not smart enough to raise their own children. If you don’t buy this book and learn the correct parenting techniques, you will scar your children for life. Parents are afraid to trust their own decisions and are always looking to imitate the latest guru’s advice so they can raise perfect kids.
How did we as parents become so inept? Did parents a hundred years ago struggle so much with raising their children? Were there weekly meetings in the town square to discuss the newest parenting philosophies? I think not. Rather, they trusted their instincts, learned from their mistakes, and parented to the best of their abilities. Sure, there were great parents and horrible parents, just as there are saintly and sinful people throughout time. However, I think people used to rely more on common sense and the grace given them by God to be good parents.
Instead of raising saints, frequently our goal as parents is to raise flawless children, perfect in every respect. If our children are not perfect by age 10, we view ourselves as failures. Instead of focusing on sanctification, we are more concerned about how many activities our children are involved in, what awards they have won, and if others perceive us as the perfect family. Do we even value God’s thoughts about how we are raising the children he has entrusted to us?
Our job as parents is to raise our children to become saints. It is a long process, not a quick three-step transformation to give you a new kid by Friday. Day-in and day-out, we need to teach our children how to become virtuous people. Will we as parents fail at this? Of course, we will. However, we need not be afraid of our failures, for God’s power is made perfect in weakness. The graces we receive through Confession and the Eucharist can help us rise again from our failures to begin anew in forming saints in the home.
Besides the supernatural graces, we can and should use humanity’s collective knowledge on the subject of parenting. However, this becomes a crutch for us. When we have a problem, we turn to Google for a solution instead of the Creator. Instead of asking Dr. Phil, we should ask the Divine Physician to help us through our difficulties. Our Savior tells us to “ask and you shall receive”; perhaps we ask too little for help with our parenting.
So the next time you feel inept as a parent, take a moment to pray. Instead of tweeting or posting on Facebook, spend some time in God’s presence. Remember that He has specifically called you to be a parent and raise children for Him. He does not require you to be perfect right now, but to cooperate with him in raising your children to be holy, so that one day your family may enjoy the bliss of heaven together forever.