There is no perfect parent. Not one.
I have had to admit that to myself often. I can’t expect myself to live up to this idea that I can be the mom who always has fresh cookies and milk on the table, yet feeds their children all organic fruits and vegetables, keeping minimal screen time while giving them perfect outdoor play opportunities all while keeping a spotless house and cheery disposition. It’s not possible. As much as we try to make plans, this beautiful thing happens called “life”. It seems to toy with us in all the most frustrating ways.
In fact, every parent is going to go through phases when they feel like they are failing. No family will always have perfect family home evenings and uninterrupted family scripture and prayer. The fighting persists daily between my children and I often wonder… what am I doing wrong? I’m teaching the gospel in our home, so why are my kids still behaving so badly? Why don’t they get it?
We are not on this road alone. The Lord has placed people in our path to help cheer us on. Many of which are church leaders. The Lord doesn’t want us to believe we are failures. I know He is grateful for every meager action we take to teach our children principles of righteousness. It is our enemy who wants to belittle us for our efforts. Because there is a spiritual aspect of this war raging on today, the answer also lies within the spiritual realm of things. Besides our Lord, who better to seek counsel from than our spiritual leaders?
Relief Society Presidents have probably been through most of what we are feeling also. Don’t be afraid to ask for counsel.
Bishops and branch presidents typically have families and are familiar with the ups and downs of trying to raise a Christ-centered, sin resistant family. They may be able to point you in the right direction with counsel or with professional services. There are many good leaders who are willing to work with family members who need an outside influence if you are experiencing trouble with a child. Young men and young women presidencies are concerned for our family members and will typically be willing to put forth more effort when there is a situation needing extra help.
It seems to me that I gain the most comfort by searching general conference talks. When I struggle as a parent, I usually find the greatest joy and comfort through the words of inspired leaders who know about this challenging journey of mortality. The Lord sends answers as we seek them.
Years before I had children, Elder Robert D. Hales gave a beautiful talk for families. In it, he said, “I want to remind all of us today that no family has reached perfection. All families are subject to the conditions of mortality. All of us are given the gift of agency—to choose for ourselves and to learn from the consequences of our choices. Any of us may experience a spouse, a child, a parent, or a member of our extended family suffering in one way or another—mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually—and we may experience these tribulations ourselves at times. In short, mortality is not easy.” 1
Along the way
He goes on to speak about other people who can help when one of our loved ones is in need. “Along the way, at times… the Lord provides inspired… special third-party helpers such as priesthood and auxiliary leaders, teachers, extended family, and worthy friends. Sometimes the Spirit prompts us as parents to seek special help beyond ourselves.... The Spirit will direct when and how such help should be obtained.” 1
Lastly, the greatest help I have when I fear I am failing is the mighty influence of the Holy Ghost. He carries answers to my heart and brings peace to my soul. He helps me know where I am falling short and teaches me how to improve. The Lord loves us. The sacred calling of a parent is more important than ever so don’t ever give in to the thought that you are failing. Talk to your leaders and those who are your stewards that you may be lifted and encouraged.
1 “With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent: A Message of Hope to Families”, Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2004 General Conference