I have met a few ‘perfect parents’ and to be honest, they aren’t my cup of tea. They’re boring and they think they know everything, which is overbearing. They are the ones who are constantly offering discouraged parents advice, which they think is fool proof, but actually isn’t. They are the ones who are always talking about their ‘perfect’ kids, who actually aren’t.
I like imperfect parents much better. We usually get on remarkably well. Imperfect parents bring honesty to the table and they know they don’t always get it right. They are open to others’ opinions. They fumble a bit but they’re amazing to watch protect and care for their children in the best way they know how at the time. It’s just raw parenting, straight from the heart.
I once listened as an imperfect father named Peter called national radio to ask the nation’s feedback on his parenting. It was a remarkably unique situation. While on his way home from work he had witnessed his seventeen and fifteen year old daughters physically assaulting another teenage girl. They were giving her quite a slamming. He could hardly believe his eyes. He had never thought he would witness his girls being so physically violent.
Like all imperfect fathers, he didn’t know what to do. So he started with the obvious. He pulled over to the side of the road, broke up the fight and rescued the injured teenager. That made sense and had the audience’s 100% support. He made his teenage girls apologize to the injured girl’s parents. Again, claps all around. I couldn’t have agreed more.
He then bundled his two daughters into the car and took them to the police station where he asked that they be charged with assault. The seventeen year old would have a permanent record against her name and the fifteen year old’s school was notified. Eyebrows were starting to raise as his audience called in for their two cents worth. I was personally impressed with his passion. That’s quite a follow through!
Just to make sure his girls got the message, he decided to sell the seventeen year old’s car, which he had bought as a birthday present a few months earlier. “No bully would be needing a car,” he said. He also sold the fifteen year old’s Play Station and Wii and grounded them both for six months. I would have loved to have been living in that house for the next six months!
His aim to was communicate to his girls that he would not tolerate bullying in any way. Did he do that perfectly, or imperfectly? That was up for debate. The radio station was alight with comments from callers. Some thought he had been way too hard. Others literally gave him a standing ovation and wished to God that all the other parents in the world would follow in his footsteps. I was on his side. He sounded like a great guy!
The thing that amazed me most about this whole story was how Peter firstly responded so confidently, but later he found himself calling talk back radio for reassurance! What’s with that? What questions had filled his mind and prompted him to get the nation’s opinion? It was obvious that Peter, like all parents, wanted (maybe needed) reassurance.
Parents, this thought may help. There is no perfect way to parent a teenager. Don’t think about your parenting choices in terms of wrong and right, but think of them in terms of what can I BELIEVE is the right things to do? Our kids need confidence and consistency from us rather than perfection.
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