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Super Parent

This is the story of a Super Mom. It may be very much like yours, like mine:

I had been a teacher in the elementary grades and thought I had accumulated a lot of knowledge about children, so I dived into motherhood with gusto. I still remember vividly that night coming home with my first-born, full of confidence in my ability, only to wind up frantically imploring the advice of Dr. Spock in the wee hours with a screaming baby in my arms.

Following this introduction to parenthood, I determined to get it right with babies two and three. In my book, getting it right included staying at home, choosing the right preschools, joining the right play groups, fixing the right meals, buying the right educational toys, reading the right books, joining the PTA groups at more than one school (not to mention holding positions in each), being volunteer extraordinaire and, most importantly, participating in the right Sunday schools where, of course, my children were in attendance every Sunday.

I was determined for a couple of reasons. First, I refused to accept defeat. No little guy or gal was going to conquer me! Secondly, a couple of my children were diagnosed with attention problems. I figured that if I worked hard enough I could compensate for their problems and keep the teachers and friends on our side. This stubborn determination became so all consuming that my whole identity became intensely performance-based.

As the teen years approached, we began experiencing serious problems with our oldest. My middle child began to rebel, and I was receiving daily calls about the frustration level of my youngest. Add to this a spouse who traveled a lot, a best friend who moved away, and lack of support from folks who tried to understand but couldn’t. My world began to crumble. I felt such shame at not being able to control the behavior of my children. I saw their behavior as a direct result of my inability to be the best mom ever. My identity as a mother, which I mistakenly viewed as the whole reason for my existence, was built on crumbling ground. As I contemplated what the future held in light of each child, I fell into serious depression and utter hopelessness. Mom—tough, determined, and touted as impervious—was broken, flawed, and vulnerable. I had set out to conquer motherhood. Instead, it conquered me.

It was about this time that I forced myself out of bed to attend a class being taught on Anabel’s book, The Confident Woman. As usual, God’s timing is perfect. I went to that class needing to meet my real identity, needing to be set free from trying to be SUPER MOM! I found out that I was completely acceptable and loved regardless of how things (including my children) turned out. I copied down a list of words describing how God sees me and put them in places where I would read them every day. Ever so gradually, I began to believe them and walk in them, and ever so gradually my life began to change. Do I still struggle with my emotions when I see the child of a friend graduate or when I get a Christmas letter full of family successes? Yes, I do. But I now know who I am in Christ, and I hold tightly to that truth. That makes all the difference.

Trying Hard to be Super

I practiced just as diligently as this woman did for the super wife, super mom, super Sunday school teacher, super cook, super friend, ad infinitum. And of course, there had to be evidence of my success or heaven forbid—my failure! So that meant being a gourmet par excellence, a tiger in the bedroom, an inspiration to a growing class of very dedicated thirteen-year old girls at church and a devoted mother to children who were class presidents, honor students, popular with peers and teachers—just your average, all around perfect kids! You might think from all my frenzied activities that had I ripped off my blouse there would have been a Wonder Woman suit underneath. But there was no Wonder Woman. It was only Anabel bulling her way through life in her own super strength. Strength that I never dreamed would fail me.

Being a parent is the heaviest responsibility that we choose to face here on Planet Earth. You’ll pick up on the word choose. You know, if you don’t want to have a stomachache, then don’t eat green apples. If you don’t want a child, then don’t enter into the sexual reproduction act. We know how kids come into the world and it isn’t by a big bird flapping his wings and carrying a bundle of joy in his beak!

Parenthood: Having the supreme thrill of building this unique, intimate, wonderful relationship of parent and child; having the power to shape a life, to imbue into that life the secrets of living in a sometimes antagonistic, difficult world; to build an unshakable base of security; and to envelope that small human in unconditional love. This is your privilege and your responsibility once you collaborate to plant the seed in the womb. An impossible responsibility in the natural. You really do have to be a "super" mom—a "super" dad—supernaturally.

The Godly Parent

One of the most liberating statements I have ever heard came from the end of the table at the Pizza Parlor on a Sunday night after church: You realize, don’t you, that God did not call us to rear godly children; He called us to be godly parents. Hey! I can handle that! Knowing that Christ is my life and that He faces every event in my life for me and through me gives me the power to be a godly parent, to allow my child to see a living example of Christ emanating from me—loving, understanding, wise, patient, tender, loyal, kind.

A child cannot be forced into a religious mold. That mold will chip, get dirty, and finally break or possibly be replaced with a bizarre, perverted mold. No. His relationship to your God must be his choice not your choice for him. My responsibility is to train that child, and that is done maximally through my example. Words of teaching and exhortation can be erased or overwritten by stronger words from a stronger voice, but training lingers for many years, and we have God’s promise: Train up [to guide the mental, moral and spiritual growth and development of] your child in the way he should go and when he becomes a mature adult he will remember your training and return to it (Proverbs 22:6 My paraphrase). But even with that promise God also prepares you for the chance that your child will say no to the drawing of the Holy Spirit. God has implanted within each of us a free will and neither God nor you as a parent wants to endure a forced love relationship. That’s the definition of rape—forcing a person to perform an act of love without that person’s consent—against that person’s will.

I was talking to another used-to-be super mom. Her words were an echo of mine:

I tried so hard, Anabel, to be perfect in all my child-rearing techniques and that, of course, meant being perfect in every area—a super mom. It didn’t work. My son has chosen a lifestyle that is so far removed from my standards, my desires for him that I can’t even comprehend it! But I know something, Anabel. My son is in God’s hands—I’ve placed him there! I know also that I am loved and totally accepted by God no matter what path my child chooses to walk—that He has forgiven me for my ignorance and that my child has a free will to accept or reject Jesus as the answer for his problems. I have complete peace and I don’t look back and analyze where I went wrong or what I could have done differently.

Parenting is one of the most fulfilling adventures (good word, isn’t it?) you will ever experience and also one of the most difficult. A truly awesome responsibility. But God has given us the provision for being the super star. That provision is Christ’s life within you and within me … and for Anabel, this has made all the difference.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.