Why It’s OK to Not Have the Perfect Parent Child Relationship

We love our kids so much! And in our efforts to show them the best life possible, we often feel an immense pressure to hold tight to our kids and to create the perfect parent child relationship.

And yet… that struggle to keep the parent child bonds strong can bring so much angst and sometimes even heartbreak. When do we let go? When do we hold on tighter? There aren’t simple answers to these questions about how to guide our kids toward adulthood.

Today I’m sharing my own struggles to maintain the perfect relationship with my son, and what it’s taught me about expectation, love and bonding.

Moms, I want to free you to discover a beautifully imperfect relationship with your kids–one that doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

We love our kids so much! And in our efforts to show them the best life possible, we often feel an immense pressure to hold tight to our kids and to create the perfect parent child relationship. And yet... that struggle to keep the parent child bonds strong can bring so much angst and sometimes even heartbreak. When do we let go? When do we hold on tighter? There aren't simple answers to these questions about how to guide our kids toward adulthood. Today I'm sharing my own struggles to maintain the perfect relationship with my son, and what it's taught me about expectation, love and bonding. Moms, I want to free you to discover a beautifully imperfect relationship with your kids--one that doesn't have to be perfect to be good.

How My Relationship with My Son Began

I gave birth to my son during a very sad, lonely, and depressing part of my history. It was probably the worst time to be having a child and yet this child was nothing but a blessing to me. I would often whisper to him, “You saved my life.”

And my life he was.

Hardly another person held him. He stayed in my arms, I held him close in my sling, and he slept by my side. He was happy, so happy, and his smile lit up my life every day.

Yes, I just knew we’d be the best of friends. We would have the perfect relationship.

Three years later, on the eve of my next Caesarean, I held my son in my lap, pulling him close to me. It was the last time that it would be just us. I even have a picture of us, sitting there on my bed. It gives me tears now as I remember this moment. His face held no smile but showed deep thought. It was like he knew that everything was about to change.

And change it did. He became the “big brother,” and now I had an infant to care for. But interestingly, it was not the birth of my daughter that brought about the biggest changes.

It was my son and his growing personality.

Our Mother Son Relationship Began to Change

About at the age of 6 or 7 we started seeing him evolve. His happiness, his light heartedness began to disappear. My in-laws would comment at how he was “exactly like his father.” My friends laughed and said the same thing.

Now I’ll have you know my husband is one of the hardest working and selfless men I know, and I am nothing but proud that my son has this example.

But also true is that my husband is very much my opposite.

Whereas I love sunshine and beaches, he loves cold and woods. I love people and bonding, and he craves solitude. I am flexible and adaptable, while he is methodical and habitual.

And the thought of my son’s smile fading into a deep, brooding, contemplative (somewhat cranky) expression; the funny little chatter turning into protective silence; his adaptability grow into firm opinions and judgements…well, it made me panic.

And there was nothing I could do.

My son was growing up, becoming who he was, exhibiting stronger and stronger traits as time went on. He was retracting into himself. He was hesitant to share feelings.

And as I watched him go through this metamorphosis, I struggled and struggled to keep him close.

“What are you thinking? Tell me now!”

“You’re grounded!”

“How can you say that?!”

“Tell her you’re sorry.”

“Don’t do that again!”

The hundreds of pages of parenting books…the hours and hours of reasoning…the pools of tears on both parts…the letters I have written him, the cards I have given him…”I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just want us to be close.”

My friends, as I write this I have tears streaming down my cheeks, because looking back I realize something so important and so profound: I was mourning. I am mourning.

I am mourning something that I have not lost.

Why The Perfect Parent Child Relationship Does Not Exist

Simply put, perfect–even a perfect parent child relationship–does not exist.

And not only does it not exist but it can be an enemy.

I fell in love with this concept when I first heard it. So many times I have let perfectionism immobilize me, or keep me from reaching a “good” goal; a realistic goal.

And yet, look at what I’ve had in front of me this whole time: Not a “perfect” relationship with my son, but a darn good one.

Sometimes I worry about the things he doesn’t tell me, and then I overhear him tell his friend, “My mom is my diary.”

I often feel bad about not having the ultimate dream relationship, and then I see this child hug me every day and pull his sleeping bag into our bedroom every night to sleep on our floor, just to be near us.

He hates when I go to bed early because he wants to “talk and draw” with me and do that thing we do each night.

He wants to hug me in the morning; he calls it “huggie monster.”

He wants to put his head on my shoulder when he’s tired.

Perfect is the enemy, I repeat.

It lies and tells you that you aren’t enough. It tells you to get angry, or to feel unworthy. It is the reason behind unreasonable expectations, for yourself and others.

It causes us to yell at our children and to yell at each other. It causes us to be disappointed, in them and in ourselves.

My search for the perfect parent child relationship caused me to not be grateful for the truly beautiful and unique thing I had right in front of my eyes.

It caused me to mourn, when I absolutely didn’t need to.

Letting Love Guide Healthy Parent Child Relationships

When I can focus on relational closeness instead of perfect attachment, I find myself slowly settling into my imperfect relationships with my kids.

When I can ditch the idea of creating the “perfect” parent child relationship, and instead choose to love them through this messy process of growing up, that’s when I’m discovering freedom and peace in my parenting.

Colossians 3:14 describes love as “a perfect bond of union.” And in Ephesians 4:1-5, the Bible also tells us that this process of loving through the imperfect is how God calls us to grow our everyday relationships.

Mom, be inspired by this! Be encouraged! Where you see relationship imperfections, look for the opportunities to love your kids through them, believing that a good parent child relationship isn’t about seeking complete unity but relational closeness.

Your Turn

How have you discovered that “letting go of the imperfect” brings relationship closeness between you and your child(ren)? What have you learned about how a parent child relationship improves when love and grace guides daily interactions?

 

This post is linked up at Grace & Truth.

About Lindsey Marie

Lindsey Marie is a passionate writer eager to touch the hearts and minds of her readers. As a devoted mother to two, happy homeschooler, and scatterbrained housewife, she’s on a mission to find love and joy in “the simple life” and invites you to join her! She shares this journey with you at The Nitty Gritty Mom where you will find information on real life parenting, homeschool encouragement, resources, and a place to connect as inspired women. Find Lindsey at her blog link above, and on the following social media networks:
 Facebook, Pinterest, Periscope, Twitter, and YouTube.

About the Author

Lindsey Marie is a passionate writer eager to touch the hearts and minds of her readers. As a devoted mother to two, happy homeschooler, and scatterbrained housewife, she’s on a mission to find love and joy in “the simple life” and invites you to join her! She shares this journey with you at The Nitty Gritty Mom where you will find information on real life parenting, homeschool encouragement, resources, and a place to connect as inspired women. Find Lindsey at her blog link above, and on the following social media networks:
 Facebook, Pinterest, Periscope, Twitter, and YouTube.

Leave a Reply 20 comments

The Perfect Parent-Child Relationship - Is It A Dream? ~ The Nitty Gritty Mom - February 15, 2016 Reply

[…] READ THE REST OF THIS POST on Your Vibrant Family AND FIND OUT HOW I’VE LET THE IDEA OF A PERF… […]

Deanna Hershberger - February 25, 2016 Reply

Beautifully written! Every parent-child relationship is going to be different. Formed with love is the most important!

Thank you for sharing with Everything Kids!

Kristie - March 18, 2016 Reply

You have no idea how hard this hit me. This is me- what you wrote. And today I ran to my room crying bc I try so hard to be the perfect mom but I fail. And I wrote in my journal how I’m a failure. And later I wondered why I felt a sense of satisfaction calling myself a failure. That’s when God told me it’s because there’s no pressure, no expectations in being horrible. To say I’m a good mom, gives me anxiety because I’m not perfect. There’s a scripture that says “perfect love casteth out all fear”. I thought that was love of others. Today I realized it’s the love of God. I will try and be the best for my family, but that’s all I can do. I will ask Him for strength and guidance. I will look to God for my worth. There are no good vs bad qualities list with God. Christ has paid for me- ALL of me. There’s no weighing it out. Salvation comes by believing in Christ and using His Atonement. It’s that easy. If I’m good enough for God, I AM ENOUGH period! And right after I wrote all this in my journal, I saw this post on Pinterest. It was an answer from God. Thank you for writing this!

Laurie - March 28, 2016 Reply

This is a wonderful article! I think so many parents struggle with this. Thank you for sharing with us at #Snickerdoodle Sunday! Pinned and tweeted to share.

    Alicia Michelle - March 30, 2016 Reply

    Hi Laurie! Thank you so much! I would agree that many parents struggle in this area and we’re all constantly trying to adjust our relationships as our kids grow up.

Stephanie - March 29, 2016 Reply

I so needed this. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my oldest for whatever reason and I needed to know that we don’t have the perfect relationship, we just need to have a good one.

    Alicia Michelle - March 30, 2016 Reply

    🙂 Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your honesty here. It is crazy how we can have completely different relationships with all of our kids, right?! It’s always a challenge as a parent to let them grow into who they need to be while still allowing for space for the relationship to adjust. It’s not easy!

Jen Schneider - March 29, 2016 Reply

This was truly meant for me to read. I found you on The Life Of Faith link up. I feel I’ve gone through the same process with my son and our personalities are beginning to clash, but if I look at it through different glasses, he’s still my loving little boy and I want to build on what we have.

    Alicia Michelle - March 30, 2016 Reply

    Jen! How wonderful to read your comment. I’m so glad you found the post and that it was helpful! I agree that it is hard to make that transition to parenting an older child… I feel like there’s this constant clash between letting them grow into who they’re meant to be and us helping to guide them to be the best person they can be.

Abby - March 31, 2016 Reply

This resonates so much with me. I, too, have a more serious, brooding, anxious husband and a son who is so much like him. He’s only five, but I can already see where our personality differences might tear us apart if I expect things to be perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

I’d love for you to come link up with The Alder Collective link party! http://bit.ly/1LYB1Zn

Sandy Sandmeyer - April 1, 2016 Reply

I’ve worked very hard to be a good balance for my son. They call them “mama’s boys” for a reason. And in our little family of 3, that means my husband is the outsiders, which isn’t a good thing either. I don’t want to hold on too hard and I really want him to grow to be a confident man without his mother following closely behind trying to get his attention. I love watching him with other people when he doesn’t know I’m watching. My husband and I did a great job and my son, now nearly 22 years old, still wants to be with us. We’re blessed. Thanks for sharing your post on the Over the Moon Link Party.

Mistie - April 3, 2016 Reply

Beautifully written with love and grace. Thank you for your honesty and sharing with us at Funtastic Friday.

Erlene A - April 3, 2016 Reply

Wow, this made me really rethink my relationship with my oldest dd. She is in her teen years and it’s been really hard to connect with her. She isn’t the lovey dovey type and hates hugs and any type of affection, so sometimes I feel like she doesn’t like us…lol.

    Alicia Michelle - April 3, 2016 Reply

    Erlene, thank you for sharing! Yes, I too love Lindsey’s heartfelt story here. It reminded me that perfection isn’t the goal but instead learning to grow and build relationships where our kids are at.

Aimee Imbeau - April 7, 2016 Reply

Ahh, yes…perfection. It is such a lie. The biggest one for me was having to realize that my children will sin…not just a little lie here and there…but fall into deep sin…and it was my job to help them learn how to deal with sin, how to get out of sin and how to accept mercy and grace from God.
Lindsey and Alicia, thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth. I appreciate your post so much that I have chosen it to be my feature this week. Make sure you stop by my site on Friday to get the “I was featured” button.

    Alicia Michelle - April 8, 2016 Reply

    Hi Aimee! Such heartfelt, beautiful words here. That was transformational for me too: realizing that my children will sin regularly. It’s so hard to grasp that when they are these precious, innocent bundles as babies! And yes! That begins the awesome journey of introducing them to the God that will love and forgive them… for good, no matter their mistakes!

    Thank you for choosing this post to be featured this week! What a blessing! We pray it will encourage many more moms! XOXO

Heather - August 11, 2016 Reply

I cried as I read this article this morning, as it brought back the memories of my (now 17 yr old) son when he was just a baby. I too was in a bad place in my life when he was born, and he saved my life as well. He was near perfect as a small child, not in a physical characteristics way, although I was admittedly biased, but in his behavior. He went to bed without a fuss, he never touched things he wasn’t supposed to. He only got in”big” trouble twice in his tiny life…. Once for running across our rual road right in front of an oncoming truck, to see the cows which had come up to the gate, and once for turning our stereo on full blast while my grandmother, who was watching him, was in the shower. That scared him as much as it did her!
He was my precious boy, and we were inseparable. Then he hit 8, and things started to fall apart. I was going through my second divorce from a man who had turned out to be a professional con-artist, and who was questionably a sociopath, and I also had two other children… A two year old, and an 8 month old. And I was alone and devestated. It was at this point that we began to fall away from one another. He became withdrawn and sullen. I was desperate and needy, and my 2 yr old was impossibly defiant. I was at my wits end, and in a deep depression.
Later, things were better off and on, but I was desperate for a relationship and I couldn’t pull myself out of that spiral. So he felt alone, and he was hurting over the loss of his only “father” figure in my ex husband. I was oblivious and too lost in my own sea of pain to notice.
A couple of years ago, when he was 14, we were barely speaking, and although he wasn’t disrespectful, he was brooding and sullen. I had been in a troubled relationship for several years, and he was tired of the fighting. He asked to go to his biological fathers house to live. I said okay because I wanted him to be happy. It was heart breaking to let him go, but I knew he needed that experience, just like I had at his age. I told him that if he wanted to go, that he had to commit a year to being there, no back and forth when he didn’t “like” the rules or consequences. It wound up being a horrible decision. His father was emotionally abusive to him and made him feel awful about himself. He was afraid to ask to come home because of the stipulation I had made about the year commitment, which obviously made me feel awful! When he finally came back home, he was in a bad way. Defiant, rebellious, had started smoking pot & cigarettes, and had lost his virginity, all during the previous year. And he was ANGRY. So angry in fact that he was suicidal. I had no idea what was happening… Where had my precious, loving, perfect little boy gone? How did I get him back?
I wound up sending him to live with my parents for a year, mainly so he could be alone, have his own room, go to a good school, be around lots of family, and have time to decompress without the added stress of my volatile relationship in the way.
It took over a year, but he and I have repaired our relationship.
I separated from my partner, moved in with my mother and now the kids & I are all back together.
My oldest is still brooding and withdrawn, but we talk and laugh again. It isn’t perfect. It never will be… But after reading your article today, I realize that it’s exactly how it is supposed to be. And I’m okay with that.

    Alicia Michelle - August 15, 2016 Reply

    Oh my gosh…Heather. What a story. My heart was breaking as I read it! I could feel the pain that both you and your son must have been going through. I think one of the hardest things for me as a mom is knowing that something going on in my life may be hurting my child. It is so difficult on so many levels. And yet, we are ALL HUMAN and have to figure our way through life, which sometimes means that we do things imperfectly. Thank you for sharing your very personal story, and I’m glad to hear that things are getting better with your son. NO ONE has that perfect mom-child relationship. How I wish we could all be more real with each other on that point so that we can encourage each other through the imperfection! Sending you blessings today… thank you for being brave enough to share.

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