Parents often feel like they are defined by the appearance of their children and families. Are their children well dressed? Do they have perfect photos? Do the parents knock out their to-do list constantly, squeeze in those workouts, and cook perfectly healthy homemade meals? Are their children signed up for a ton of extracurriculars and did they make the honor roll?
Parents might feel like their children need to be the best on the sports team, or that their children cannot have meltdowns in public. They want to appear like their family does not have it all together.
Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent. – Bob KeeshanLike us if you are enjoying this content.
Sometimes parents feel like they are succeeding as parents when their children are the best at everything they do. Soon, playing sports and joining the math team can feel like chores because striving for perfection eats the joy away for everyone. Parenting and comparison can weigh heavy on an adult’s heart and mind, eventually impacting children in negative ways.
Comparison is the thief of joy and can often make parents feel like they are failing in every sense. Comparison in parenthood can not only steal your joy, but it can make your children feel like they are never good enough.
If children feel like you desire perfection from them, they might slowly begin withdrawing and want to quit the things they feel they are not the best at, not leaving room for continued growth but letting feelings of failure intrude on their thoughts. If they are struggling with something, they might be afraid and refuse to ask for help if perfection is your parenting model.
The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. – Peggy O’Mara
Children’s Counseling Tips for Parents
Here are a few children’s counseling tips to consider as you parent your children:
Choose relationship over reputation.
Choose late-night heart-to-heart chats over telling them a B is not good enough and not acceptable in your home. Choose to pray together over making them read an extra book every night to increase their reading speed. Choose to take time to make memories over long lectures about how they need to practice more at home to be a starter on the basketball team. Joy > striving for perfection, which cannot be attained on this side of heaven.
Choose to connect with your child where they are instead of trying to “fix” them.
If they have learning disabilities, mental health setbacks, are having trouble making friends, or have low self-esteem, choose to sit in the mess of figuring it all out and getting them the help they need rather than being embarrassed by their struggles.
Help them find the activities and extracurriculars that make their hearts smile. Encourage them to dream big dreams and never give up. Walk alongside them in the difficult seasons rather than make them feel like a failure for facing difficulties.
Parenting “successes” will not win the approval of others for which we are searching. Parenting successes will not give us the affirmation we need that we missed in our childhood.
Trying to force things on our children because of our own childhood trauma is not in the best interest of our children or family. Parents must first seek healing for their own struggles, so they do not force those painful memories and unrealistic and unattainable expectations on their children.
Make your relationship fun.
Don’t forget to let your children BE children. If you’ve been overwhelmed by the idea of perfection, take some time to reignite the fun in your relationship with your children:
- Have a family picnic and play with them at the park.
- Campout in the backyard. Don’t forget the s’mores.
- Make pancakes together on Saturday morning.
- Have a family movie night. Don’t forget to make popcorn.
- Play indoor hide and seek.
- Bake a batch of cookies and let your children sneak a few chocolate chips.
- Give them a cardboard box and let their imaginations run wild.
- Have a board game night.
- Make homemade pizzas.
- Design and go on an indoor treasure hunt.
- Dress up in your best clothes and have a fancy dinner at home.
- Blow bubbles together. Watch your children giggle.
- Play with sidewalk chalk. Write your children sweet notes.
- Have a tea party.
- Serve your child breakfast in bed.
- Have a pillow fight.
- Make an obstacle course together. Have fun with it!
- Create creatures out of play-dough or pipe cleaners. Watch your children’s imaginations run wild.
- Fold clothes and perform chores together. Make it fun!
- Start having family meetings.
- Start a family Bible study.
Be spontaneous from time to time.
Children thrive on routines and schedules, but sometimes it’s healthy to remove the “schedule” and make the memories. Let them be children and have fond memories of their childhood. Parents also need to pause and find joy in the mundane; our children can have the best time imagining and playing with sticks and pine straw in the backyard. Their minds are beautiful blessings and we do not want to miss a front-row seat to them.
Just like we need to give our children grace, don’t forget that parents need a little grace too. Don’t aim for perfection – aim to raise children who love God and make positive strides in the environment around them.
- Raise children who notice the child sitting alone in the lunchroom and befriend them.
- Raise children who ask for an extra snack in their lunchbox to give another child who doesn’t have much at meals in the lunchroom.
- Raise children who ask to make cards for someone who is sick.
- Raise children who want to invite their friends to church.
- Raise children who don’t hold back on telling you “I love you” because you set the example and never miss a chance to tell them.
Children’s counseling is available to help you and your child walk through the unexpected challenges that arise, whether it be bullying, the death of a loved one, feelings of failure, or feeling overcome with sadness, never hesitate in choosing your child and their future over what “looks” good. Everyone struggles and that is something we can be transparent about with our children from day one.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass
Scriptures about parenting
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. – Isaiah 54:13
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. – Psalm 127:3
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-16
Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. – Proverbs 29:17
And so I am sure confident that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6
“Family Portrait”, Courtesy of Gustavo Alves, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Siblings”, Courtesy of thepoorphtographer, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “On a Walk”, Courtesy of Caleb Oquendo, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Mother and Daughter”, Courtesy of Elina Fairytale, Pexels.com, CC0 License