Have you ever met a perfect parent?
Yet book after book, magazine after magazine, could easily lead you to believe otherwise. Oh, they don’t literally promise perfection. But the relentless series of easy, multi-step formulas -- designed to stop tantrums, break your kids of junk food, get little ones to sleep through the night and avoid screaming matches -- certainly leave you with the impression that perfection is (more or less) attainable.
Of course, it could be that the publishers of these books and magazines know their audience -- and its hunger for pat answers. “We want guarantees,” writes Betsy Hart in her new book, It Takes a Parent. “But the only thing we really know is that we have a duty to as parents to persevere. And in that perseverance lies the best hope for our children.”
I recently had the privilege of appearing with Betsy on Michael Medved’s nationally syndicated radio show, and as a mother of three teenagers, I can truly appreciate her point. Most parents have solid instincts about what’s right and wrong, and they have a pretty good sense of how to raise their children to understand one from the other. These parents make mistakes -- we all do -- but they learn from them. The trick is in sticking with it, day after day, for years.
But as Betsy points out in her wise and readable book, stick with it we must. Why? Because we love our children -- even when they’re unlovable. And because, as she puts it in a theme that recurs throughout the book, “we need to be on a rescue mission for our children’s hearts.” The reason is simple: What we do is a reflection of our character. If we persevere in planting good virtues in our children, we won’t have to worry so much about how they will behave under pressure. (Of course, we’ll never stop worrying altogether -- we are parents, after all.)