Indeed, perfection is the enemy of love.
If you really want your child to feel loved, then stop worrying about your parenthood. Yes, this is much easier said than done. Our culture has set a standard for parenting that says if we are good, acceptable parents then our children will turn out to be successful in a certain way that is tied to attending top colleges and/or fostering careers that generate income levels and status that may have nothing to do with your child’s passions and talents.
And these standards of perfection are hyped in social media: that your house is always clean and your children are always happy. Check out this video message to the “perfect parents on Instagram”.
What would happen if we decided to concentrate on what really matters?
- Clean underwear, perhaps?
- Decent meals
- Honest efforts to accomplish our duties at home, school and work
- And faith: make the choice to put your trust into the wisdom thoughts that bring about peace, empower others and transcend religious dogma
Conquer worry with wisdom
Below are the top three things parents worry about, and some insights to help you decide to let go of worries, and focus your energy on the wisdom thoughts that bring forth unconditional love to conquer worry.
Worry #1: I can’t afford everything my child wants or needs. What your child needs is you to be fully present without pride, shame and guilt associated with finances. You may be blessed with a wonderful career that supplies more than enough income to support your standard of living. Or you may struggle to make ends meet. Nevertheless, here is the question: how does money define you and your relationship with your child? Be honest about your finances. If the neighbors are purchasing new cars for their teens, and that is not in your budget, then let your child know up-front that they will be expected to earn money to purchase their first car – and that you have confidence in them to do this. If you can afford to purchase your teen a car, and choose not to, communicate this confidence in your child to earn the money for their first car. Whether or not you purchase the car for your child, or help your child make the purchase, the main thing is that the message your child receives is that his or her power to succeed and attain goals is not tied the size of your bank account.
Wisdom thoughts on money:
- “Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.” Gandhi
- “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” Ayn Rand
- For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10
Worry #2: Dealing with a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is a problem for most people today. We are experiencing great social, political and economic changes which can inspire a sense of overwhelming anxiety and unrest amplified in our online worlds; and our online world keeps us going, “always on” with a fear of missing out (FOMO). The reality is that we do have power over our schedules. It is called: setting priorities. Make a list of all the activities that you and your children are committed to, and the things that keep you up at night. Prioritize the activities according to their true benefits to you, your child and the family. Just start by ranking them. And think about the cost of keeping them all on your calendar when the activities push out the dinner hour or virtually eliminate “bedtime”. Make a commitment to turn off and turn in the devices at certain time, so that your children have a sense of a bedtime hour. Read a story out loud together. Replace their mobile phone with an old fashioned alarm clock.
Wisdom thoughts on rest:
- “There is a virtue in work and a virtue in rest. Overlook neither.” Alan Cohen
- “Rest and be thankful.” William Wadsworth
- “Have regular hours for work and play; make each day useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.” Louisa May Alcott
- It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2
Worry #3: Having patience. Patience is, in my mind, the holy grail of demonstrating the power of love in the family. I understand patience as exercising the eternal, God-given grace and strength of my own soul to not allow outrageous and offensive behavior to change my heart for loved ones – to make me harbor guilt, anxiety, bitterness, resentment and anger towards them. It is through patience that I am able to forgive, not excuse bad behavior and empower us all to become better versions of ourselves.
By my faith I understand that it is human nature to be prone to error and fault tolerant. For me the prone to error part of my humanity is explained as an archery term, which defines anything outside of bull’s-eye as error; the technical archery term for off the mark is “sin”. All of humanity (being perfectly imperfect) are outside the bull’s-eye, hopefully learning how to become better versions of ourselves, and continuously aiming for the bull’s-eye where there is perfect peace, because love casts out fear.
So if we accept that it is human nature to believe and act on things that are not true and behave in ways that cause offense to self and others, to veer far away from the bull’s-eye, then we can also choose to accept this truth that every human being has been given a spirit of power and love and sound mind to hold ourselves and one another accountable for offenses with mercy and hope. This is what it means to aim for the bull’s-eye: to stand corrected and to withstand consequences without condemnation in our hearts for self and others, with a determination to know and do better the next time. When your child is experiencing painful consequences for poor or unwise choices, offer a clean slate. Let your child know that you have confidence in him or her to do better the next time.
If your child persists with behavior issues (which are exacerbated with mobile connectivity), then you will want to make sure that you have not set an unreasonable standard of conduct and make adjustments, and/or seek counseling support to better understand your child’s issues and meet his or her genuine communication needs. When dealing with outrageous behavior and testing of limits, the bigger question is do you believe that your child wants to be loved and make a positive contribution? If you believe this wisdom thought, then consider that your child’s challenging behavior is a call to action; to better understand the underlying issues so that you both can learn something about conquering painful fears.
To learn more about the power of love and suffering in the family, go to: The Role of a Parent in Healing a Suffering Child.
Wisdom thoughts on patience:
- “Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.” Brian Adams
- “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” St. Augustine
- “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.” Ephesians 4:2-3
- “One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Chinese Proverb
- “Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” Joyce Meyer
- “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The simple truth is that children, especially adolescents, need to experience unconditional love that brings out their true character as trustworthy citizens, and nurtures their passions and talents. And we parents of children of any age cannot reflect back this love when we are worried that our own efforts are not enough to “make our children be successful” according to our own limited understanding of their potential and their own life lessons to pursue that potential. For when we formulate expectations of perfect parents raising perfect kids according to the standards of the consumer culture we are navigating, we are sending signals of insecurity, anxiety and fear. Instead may you and your family experience the peace of Christ this day and every day by your choice to nurture your own confidence in the spirit of power and love and sound mind in you and in your children.
To learn more about creating a more peaceful version of family, go to Fresh Start.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.