Sometimes we may feel like other people are are our accuser-- casting judgement for our choices. But other times, we are our own worst critics--casting judgments about our career, how we handle our emotions, and especially our parenting style.
Which brings me to a very important point: Your identity is not who you are as a parent.
I’m sure it’s easy to become so wrapped up in your identity as a mom or dad when you are called it dozens of times a day, but I repeat: Your identity is not who you are as a parent.
Your identity is not in whether you breastfeed or bottle feed. Your identity is not in whether you are a music-sports-dance mom or a stay-in-the-house mom. It’s not in whether you feed your baby organic food in a perfectly sterilized bowl, or if you let your child eat cheerios off the floor.
Your identity is solely in who you are in Christ.
And in Christ you are holy, dearly loved, bought with a price, blessed with every spiritual blessing, created to do His work. He has given you everything you need! Even your own thoughts, accusations, and doubts cannot compete with the identity we have as children of God. It’s refreshing and humbling to know that the little choices you make for your child do not define you. And the choices your child makes don’t define you!
The devil would love for you to get wrapped up in that one time your child freaked out in the grocery store and threw a tantrum. For you to think, "Great, now I’m the Grocery-store-tantrum mom." He would love for you to get wrapped up in that one incident and question everything you know about yourself. "Am I really loving? Am I doing a good enough job disciplining my child? Should God have even trusted me with this child?"
The fact is, those types of things happen to all parents. And if those situations did define us, the world would be full of “grocery-store-tantrum moms.”
The fact is, God created us each uniquely and blessed us with unique children. There is no “perfect parent” or “perfect parenting style.” And if we let the way our children act or our personal parenting decisions define us, we will never be able to walk the path God intended for us--a path of freedom.
Your path is different than your neighbor’s. What works for one child may not work for another child. And what works for a working mom may not work for a stay at home mom and that is 100% okay. When you understand your identity in Christ and pursue relationship with Him, He will draw out the characteristics you have inside to lead your children better.
Really, it’s all just the trap of comparison. Whether you are comparing yourself to another parent you know or just the “ideal parent” you created in your mind, you are making room for the enemy to lie to you about your identity! Comparison not only causes distress and depression, but it takes your focus off the Lord and onto yourself.
I’ve heard it said that parenting is part of God’s plan to teach us perfect love. As we experience love for our children, it reveals to us more of the way our Father loves us. And as we experience the love of the Father, He refines our love for our children. So don’t lose heart! Parenting is a process, and God expects us to grow in it, but we can only grow as much as we pursue and trust Him.
We know that we cannot accomplish everything God has for us in our own strength--that includes parenting! But, through Him, we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)
So refresh your perspective today! Stop looking at what you aren’t doing as a parent and think about what you are doing. Maybe you are great at spending quality time with your child, or maybe you do make really great meals for them! Or maybe you can just celebrate catching up on the laundry. Whatever it is, celebrate it and the child of God that you are!
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. - Philippians 4:13 (AMP)
As you fix your eyes on God, ask Him to reveal to you areas where you can improve and to call you to a higher standard. But above all, ask Him to continue to show you your identity in Him and to help you hold it close to your heart. Trust that you are who God says you are, and enjoy the life God has blessed you with--as a parent, and more importantly as His child.