In a perfect world, there would be a formula “X steps to Perfect Parenting” that will give all parents the perfect solution to every problem they face, that will produce perfect results. We can continue wishing but we all know that there is no such thing.
In the earlier years of motherhood, like all new parents, I sought formula and solutions for challenges that I faced. I turned to the internet, to parenting forums and books. I did gained a lot of knowledge through that. Yet, it always seemed like the moment I managed to overcome a certain challenge, something else would crop up. It was like playing a game with no set and clear rules, a game with a forever shifting goalpost. Too often, whatever parenting self-help books promised did not quite happen as expected even though I tried to follow the steps as closely as I could.
I sought advice from other parents. Many were very experienced and knowledgeable. Their advice at times contradicted each other due to the differences in their underlying philosophy. At times, seemingly sound advice did not work for me. Often, they were as clueless as I was and what they gave were more suggestions than advice. It was like the blind leading the blind. When everything failed, they could only give sympathetic consolation and say that “this too shall pass; hang in there”. Grateful as I was to all the help they tried to give me, they couldn’t help much. As the years went by, I became one of those “experienced” moms and others sought advice from me even though I did not stop groping my way around in the dark myself.
If I were to condense all the lessons I have learned throughout the years, I would say this :
There is no set formula or methods for parenting.
If you think about it, if there are tried and true, guaranteed-to-work methods to any parenting challenge, why would there be so many different recommendations and theories? New ideas are coming up every now and then. If something really works, then there won’t be a need for alternatives.
Slowly, but surely, I started to get it and stopped looking for solutions. If anyone were to ask me for advice on any parenting challenges now, yes, I would still offer some information and suggestions. But if you really want to know what is the “real thing”, then I can only tell you : God’s grace and His guidance.
Time and again, when I am faced with a particular challenge, He is the one who gives me the answer. For example, when my son had a problem with a particular aspect of his studies, God was the one who gave me the key to help him overcome that problem. Generally speaking, He either helps me see the challenge in a certain way, such that I could get to the root of the issues and deal with it effectively; or He would give me ideas that I know I am not capable of coming up with myself. This does not mean that I stop doing things like surfing the internet or reading books on the subject (actually, I read a lot less these days). I still do, but God would guide me towards the information that I most need, and the solution that is the most appropriate for my situation.
You see, even if you and I are both facing the same set problem, the solution that we need may be greatly different. This is because our kids are different, our family values may be different, we are different. There are so many different factors that could influence the outcome. Hence, there cannot be a one-size-fit-all solution.
To look to God for guidance is at once exciting and scary. Scary because we abandon our dependence on human wisdom and stop trying. Period. Exciting because God will always turns up when we ask Him to come into the situation. When He takes over, the result is always far better than any human ideas.
Certainly, those ideas and wisdom that God has given me will be helpful for some other people. His blessings are always more than enough to bless us and then bless the others around us. This is why I still try to help when asked to help. But if you really want to know how to fish and want a permanent solution to all your challenges, parenting or otherwise, then ask God for His guidance and wisdom. This may seem like a hard way but it is actually the simplest and most effective.