Why Your Child Needs an Imperfect Mom

by Amy Carroll

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“Mom, where is the toothpaste?” “Moooom, I can’t find my tennis shoes!” “MOM, my brother is in my room!” Mom, mom, mom… my name was cried over and over until I just couldn’t take it anymore. After the next bellow, I yelled back up the stairs, “I’ve changed my name!”

“What?” he asked, “What is it?”

“I’m not telling you,” I replied.

I know. It was a mom fail moment, and I’m not proud of it. (But tell me you’ve at least thought it too!)

Does your child think you know everything? You’re the head honcho, the expert, the all-understanding one. No matter who else is in the house (or even the same room), “Mom!” is likely the call when anything is needed—from a clean piece of laundry to advice on how to handle an angry friend. You may still be living in those days. As the parent of young adults, let me tell you, it doesn’t last forever!

Although it’s occasionally an irritant to be the source of all wisdom for our kids, there are lots of instances when it’s easy to buy into our own press release. It feels good for someone to think we’re perfect. It’s easier to act like we haven’t made any mistakes than to apologize. We figure it’s our turn to be the authority.

So we put on the façade of the perfect mom.

Then we try to sell it to our kids, our husbands and everyone else around us. I know I fell into the perfect mom pit when my boys were little. For me, and I’ll bet for you, it started with the best of intentions. This mom gig is important, and I wanted to do it right. It doesn’t take much, however, to veer away from a heart-felt desire to be a good mom into the dangerous pursuit of our own perfection.

I want to whisper a freeing truth to you today. Our kids don’t need a perfect mom. Instead, they desperately need an imperfect mom. Not a mom who embraces her imperfections, but a mom who recognizes her weaknesses and makes grace for theirs.

Here’s why:

Because the world is more comfortable with masks…

The world has been speaking to your boys and girls since they were born, and the messages are loud and clear. “This is what it looks like to be beautiful.”  “This is what it means to be successful.” “This is how you act to be accepted.”  “This is what you believe if you’re smart.”

Kids learn early to wear a mask to follow the messages and fit in, but you don’t want them to wear a mask. You want them to be the fulfillment of every dream God had when He created them in His image. You want them unmasked and glorious!

There’s only one way to make sure our children don’t accumulate a stack of masks, and it’s a hard step as a mom. You have to take off your own masks and throw them away if you don’t want your kids to hide behind theirs.

We were crafted to live in God’s image, not to create our own, so masks, shape-shifting and measuring up have to go. We have to do some self-evaluation. What role do I hide behind? What “un-cool” gift do I suppress? Whose measuring stick do I use for my success as mom, wife, friend…?

Because she’s tired…

American children today are more scheduled than ever before. In addition to school and church, there are lessons, teams, and play dates. While it’s healthy for children to be challenged, many kids seem exhausted and overwhelmed. I know I feel the same way lots of days. Don’t you?

We need to constantly check our motivation. Is my busyness a sign of productivity or a symptom of perfection? As we value and prioritize rest rather than driving ourselves and our children, we’ll set an example that they’ll easily follow. As moms, let’s make time for worship, work, rest, and play so that our children will learn God’s rhythms for their lives.

Because she needs to know Jesus is the hero…

When we wear the perfect mom façade, then our kids think we’re perfect… for a time. What happens when they get older and the façade inevitably crumbles?

When we own up to our own imperfections instead of trying to hide them, it’s an easy introduction to Jesus, the true Perfect One. We can apologize to our children when we make parenting mistakes and explain God’s forgiveness toward us as we say we’re sorry. We can talk about our need and God’s provision of grace when we fail.

Only when we end our pursuit of perfection can God begin His perfecting work in us.

Our kids will see God’s power in us as we confess our weaknesses, and Jesus becomes the hero of our homes when we are truthful about our own sin and imperfections.

I’ve spent a year thinking of little else except the problems with perfectionism as I wrote Breaking Up with Perfect. Now that the book is released, I’m getting surprising feedback. Although I wrote the book for women, I’m getting lots and lots of comments from moms about how worried they are about their kids’ perfectionism and the devastating effects in their lives.

Imperfect moms can be the buffer between their children and the world that presents a pile of unrealistic expectations. What a relief it will be for our children when they’re allowed to see our imperfections. What a relief for us.

Amy Carroll

The winner of the giveaway is Jennifer Gann! Thank you all for commenting to enter and we encourage you to grab a copy of Amy’s book from Amazon or your local book retailer!

Giveaway: Today Amy is giving away a signed copy of “Breaking Up with Perfect”. Leave a comment about being an imperfect mom to enter or simply say “I’m breaking up with perfect!”

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Amy also has a free series of spin-off thoughts from Breaking Up with Perfect called “Five Days to Himperfection” click here to subscribe.

 

44 comments

  1. Shari Brown says:

    I am breaking up with perfect! This was such a great read for me this morning. I have two young boys and as I read this I could see how I am already giving them masks to wear. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect and I fail daily. This was what I needed this morning!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I know exactly what you mean, Shari. My oldest son is 21, and I see so much of my own struggle with perfectionism in him. Thank goodness for grace! We’re bonding in a whole new way and breaking up with perfect together!

      • Shari Brown says:

        It’s so refreshing to read that others go through the same struggles. The devil so wants us to believe we are all alone in the fight! Praise God for His mercies made new every morning!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Brandy, I love what you said about it being a process. I started writing the book thinking I had something to share. I finished knowing more than ever that I’m still in process!!

  2. Kim Dickey says:

    I’m breaking up with perfect!!

    One thing I’ve tried to explain to my kids as they’ve gotten older is perfect is unattainable but your best is always attainable. I’ve told my kids, if any of us were perfect we wouldn’t need Jesus. But the truth is we desperately need Him and that makes us an “imperfect progress” (I love Lysa Terkeurst). Thanks for this great read! Looking forward to reading your book!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      So true, Kim! Knowing that we’re unable to create our own perfection is step one to seeing our need for a Savior.

  3. Sara Absher says:

    What an encouragement and good read for me esp as I am 38 weeks pregnant and looking forward to welcoming our first child into this world! I so desire to honor God In my life, marriage, and parenting! I am breaking up with perfect!!!!!

  4. Susan says:

    I’m am so grateful God led me to your writing…I’ve taken many bible studies but this hits me deeper than any of the other studies/readings I’ve ever done….I cried as I read my first writing from you…everything was exactly what I was going through…thanks for your ministry!

  5. Pam says:

    i’m breaking up with perfect! i am mom to 3 young kids (ages 9,8, & 4)…& i know i have struggled with this so often…i want to be an imperfect mom who leads them to a perfect Savior in Jesus. thank you for being honest about your struggles…they sound so close to mine!

  6. Michelle Simpson says:

    Thank you so much for the encouragement. It is very much needed. I’ve always wondered if all mom’s felt this same way. I feel so overwhelmed at times. Thank you so much for this post.

  7. Jamie says:

    I am breaking up with perfect. Great read and how true we act perfect when inside we just want normal and be who God made us to be.

  8. Susan says:

    Oh how I wish I’d been able to read just this much 40 years ago! As a young mother of 4 children back then I struggled constantly with trying to be the perfect Mom and having no clue how to do it! I lost a lot of the joy of being a mom worrying that I was making a mess of it all. I have 2 daughters that I’m sure this book could really help them learn to relax and enjoy this wonderful thing call motherhood!

  9. Debi Lopez says:

    It’s a daily struggle for me and Ms.Perfect! But I continue to battle and break up with her every moment of every day. Now that my children are grown, I also need to share with them how my perfection-seeking life when they were small has led them to the same thing! So I’ve shared this with my two girls, who are now wonderful mamas. Thank you for Breaking Up With Perfect, and please pray that I/we break from its bonds❤️

  10. Holly Davis says:

    I’ve BEEN breaking up with perfect for a few years now. I tend to fall back into my bad habit of trying to control everything and everyone around me. Looking forward to reading this book!

  11. Nancy Griggs says:

    My girls were adopted as teenagers and had lived in a wonderful Christian foster home for many years. I never felt I was as good as their foster mom. It didn’t help that my husband was hospitalized shortly afterwards and never came back home. In my grief and frustration I made many mistakes. They did turn out to be wonderful women, so I must have done some things right.

  12. Fawnda Dooley says:

    I LOVED your statement: “Only when we end our pursuit of perfection can God begin His perfecting work in us!” That statement preaches! Thanks! I’m choosing to break up with perfection!

  13. Lynn Beahm says:

    I have always struggled with perfectionism (and still do!) but would love love love to learn more about grace and how NOT to direct that on my kids. I would love nothing more than to be OK with imperfection!

  14. Halona Luna says:

    This mama needs this. I have four kids and I have been bedbound for quite some time. Resolving things don’t have to be perfect because I can’t do them and can’t get them to do the things I want done perfect.

  15. Ane' says:

    I had a serious problem with perfectionism when my kids were young. Ifelt like such a failure! Despite breaking up with perfect, she still calls from time to time to tell me I’m not doing everything I could be doing. As I learn to not answer her calls, I can rest in peace that it is okay…even benificial for my third child and daughter to see an imperfect mom.

  16. Cathy Collins says:

    Hey Amy,
    I am about half way through your book and I have to say thank you for investing a year into working on this project. Thank you for stepping out and for helping expose the burden of perfectionism for me. I’m choosing to break up with perfect! Amy, may God continue to bless you and I hope to see you soon.

  17. Tristina Senter says:

    I love your comments about Jesus being the hero. I try and teach my daughter that. When she is scared at night I tell her that Jesus is stronger than any monster and that all she has to say is Jesus says go away monster. It works every time. She will ask for me to put the cross next to her bed. I will admit I am afraid of monsters too. When I go in her room when she is scared I am scared too. Jesus gives me the power to overcome my fear and be strong for her. There is power in the name of Jesus. Amen.

  18. Deb Herzog says:

    L.O.V.E. This! Love the thought, idea, concept of Breaking Up With Perfect! Besides being exhausting, the sadder thing is, if I WAS perfect, I wouldn’t need a Savior, and maybe NEVER have met Jesus! :'(

  19. Gina Lawrence says:

    I so needed to read this today! With Facebook and all my friends doing so much with their kids this summer I feel somehow I’ve dropped the ball with my kids. I’m either not doing enough, pushing them enough, teaching enough, praying enough. Gets exhausting and depressing.

  20. Michele says:

    Oh Amy, this is SO me! I was a total single mom for many years, and I didn’t want my children to be labeled and run amok because they were the children of a “single parent.” During that time, if children misbehaved, that was blamed as the reason. As I was the only one raising them, I took it very seriously. I’m also a teacher, and with all the pressure on us these days for so many things, trying to be perfect seems to have been my middle name! I SO want to break this cycle and heal, because I really think you need to heal from the pressure you feel or put on yourself. Thank you so very much for writing this book and for your blog. I truly enjoyed your blog today, and bless you for writing about this!

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