Few things betray what I really believe about God like mothering—possibly because we often parent our children in the way we believe God parents us. It’s a thin place between not only us and the Spirit, but also between the theology we think we believe and what we actually believe.
Perhaps that is why so many of us struggle with our expectations of perfection for ourselves and for our children. Somehow, we’ve picked up the idea God expects perfection from us and is waiting for us to mess up so he can bring his full wrath down upon us. Sometimes it’s because of how we ourselves were parented or because of what we were taught about the nature and character of God, so we behave as if God is petty or vindictive, punishing, and exacting. We are as hard on our children as we believe God is on us. It’s difficult to let go of the lies when they’re ingrained into our minds and our hearts, manifesting in our behaviors.
Perfectionism is a strong temptation when it comes to mothering—not only in the impossible standards for ourselves but even in our attitude toward our children—possibly because we want to be assured there is a “right” way to mother. We want to believe if we do things the right way, we will have good kids, win at this mothering thing, and have a desired outcome. We also want to believe if our children are perfect, it means we did something right and good—and, therefore, we ourselves are right and good.1