Monday, August 14, 2017

When Parenting Isn't Perfect by Jim Daly (book review)

This parenting gig is hard. Can I get an "amen"? I read almost any parenting book (reputable) I can get my hands on, but I really appreciate the ones from people I trust. Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, is one of those people I trust. I listen to the Focus on the Family podcast almost daily (when I workout) and I love hearing Jim's stories about his boys and his and his wife's parenting. They seem like people we could just hang out with.

I have most of "When Parenting Isn't Perfect" by Jim Daly highlighted and notes in the sidebars. I had my heart opened to much of my parenting faults - looking for achievement, not character. How often do I get so angry with my boys when they misbehave in the grocery store (every time) instead of realizing they are little boys running a super boring errand and are trying to entertain themselves instead of thinking they are being rude - that's not their heart intent at all! They may not be thinking of others around them (including their mom) but not with bad intent. They aren't necessarily being selfish but just don't really have the immaturity to think outside of themselves all the time. Daly says, "We've somehow convinced ourselves that how we present ourselves outwardly, how close we can appear to approach perfection, is far more important than what's really going on. That's pretty rich, considering that Jesus taught us exactly the opposite."

via BookLook
I have found motherhood to be terribly difficult for me, not a "natural" thing at all (like breastfeeding). It is wonderful but I have to work SO hard. I have wanted to quit many times, but Jesus always pulls me back to my family. Daly says it well, "I think children can make us better people too. They're so needy, which forces us to think of them before ourselves. They're so demanding which makes us consider limits, both on them and us. They teach us patience. Self-control. The art of forgiveness. The beauty of unconditional love. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work. I think that's how God designed it to work. Unfortunately, our children don't always bring out the best in us. Sometimes they bring out the perfectionist in us. And that's a problem."

"God doesn't expect perfection from our families. And neither should we." But so often I do, don't you? Please say I'm not alone in this! I love my kids...but I think I've turned my thoughts of perfection into an idol of perfection (pg 41 of the book). I need to put aside that idol and embrace the beautiful mess of a family that my family is, that I am.
I've been learning to be present, in their worlds (not my world of cleaning and cooking and dinking around on Facebook), laughing with them (we enjoy America's Funniest Videos together, knock knock jokes, and laughing when faces get frozen in weird positions on "pause"), to actually practice the Golden Rule (how can I expect them to talk to me with respect if I talk so rudely to them sometimes?), to be consistent (rather than letting my emotions dictate), to be their role model (I have a very observant little girl who picks up on words...need to watch my tongue), to use my time wisely (which is why I write this during nap time), and to talk even when it's difficult (using kind words, not arguments or yelling).
my beautiful lounging kids
Daly talked about yelling, too. What do I expect to accomplish by yelling at my kids? It does not bring them closer to Jesus or better behavior. "But many of our deepest, most joyous moments need no words at all. Language is unnecessary. In fact, it's insufficient. By contrast, the things that tend to tear down our families bit by bit, the things that break us, overflow with words. 'You're a failure.' 'Why can't you behave?' When we look for perfection, we seek it through words. We instruct. We demand. We yell. We accuse. Even when we clam up, when we give our spouse or our children the silent treatment, our brains continue to work overtime, formulating our grievances, tabulating how we've been wronged...But when we look back at our most precious many are lectures or diatribes? How many involve someone telling someone else how badly they're failing?
Not many, I imagine. In fact, I bet that lectures - ones we've given, ones we've received - often are the very things we'd most like to forget."

my baby birds
Are my children going to be better people, closer to Jesus because of my lectures? Does my yelling want them to play at our house or run far away? One of my kids told me the other day after a rough patch that they didn't feel like I liked them when I yelled at them. Hopefully by using the tools I've learned from "When Parenting Isn't Perfect" and the other hundreds of parenting books (including my favorite, the Bible!), I can grow into a better mommy (and I cannot grow myself, I know God makes all things new). One day, moment by moment. And hopefully, you can too.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own. Others' opinions may differ.

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