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Set Yourself Free from Parenting Perfection

Many moms live in shame over feeling like they are not “good enough” for their kids. Sometimes that shame is projected onto their kids because they aren’t living up to our unrealistic expectations. Jeannie shares, “It’s only when we stop thinking about ourselves and what we need to do, and start thinking about Jesus and what He did for us, that we can begin to break free from the shame.”

When Jeannie first became a mom her focus was on earning acceptance from God through her good behavior for God. Naturally, her plan was to parent her young children using this same principle. She wanted her children to love God by obeying His rules and having good behavior to keep Him happy. However, what she didn’t understand back in those law-laden days is that knowledge of God’s law does not produce a love for God’s Word in her children’s hearts.  “It is when our children come to know that Jesus already fulfilled the law on our behalf that our children are free to chase hard after Him,” shares Jeannie.

Jeannie surrendered her heart to Jesus at the age of eight. Her mom had taken her to the movie theater to see Billy Graham’s movie The Prodigal. Later that night Jeannie’s mom prayed with her and she accepted the Lord as her Savior. She was the youngest of three girls and her dad was a pastor of a large Presbyterian church. Although she was raised in a very “grace-full” home, being a preacher’s kid had a significant influence on her desire to be perfect. Somewhere along the way, she began to link accomplishment with acceptance. She desperately wanted to get “it” right, whatever “it” was. “My worth became more dependent on who people thought I was instead of who God says I am in Christ,” shares Jeannie.

At 24, Jeannie married a man that was not God’s choice for her. The marriage quickly fell apart and left Jeannie overwhelmed with shame. She felt her Christian testimony was now invalid and therefore she needed to earn God’s favor. A year later, Jeannie met her husband, Mike, who was everything she had ever dreamed of but never thought she deserved. “When I entered my marriage with Mike, I had deep wounds that were still healing and shame that still needed to be shed,” shares Jeannie. They soon started a family and went on to have three boys in five years. Her sense of weakness and sinfulness increased during those overwhelming and exhausting days of early motherhood and so did her sense of shame. She was trying to be the perfect mom.

Around this time, her four-year old son Cal was given a chance to describe his family in a class project. Cal’s card read, “My Family.” Inside the card Cal described his family as: “Brennan cries a lot! Mommy just raises her voice when I’m not a good listener. She checks the computer too. Daddy works on the computer too. He checks out Thomas the Tank Engine for me. Now that’s the end of my story.” She thought to herself, “How could that be my child’s story when I’ve been trying so hard to get it right?” Although she was devastated to see herself and her family through Cal’s eyes, his card also pointed her to a painful truth: perfectionism had become an idol in her life and it was stealing all of her family’s joy. Jeannie shares, “I was focused on teaching my kids what they had to do for Jesus rather than teaching them what Jesus has already done for them through his death on the cross and his resurrection.” She realized she wasn’t giving her kids the grace that God so lavishly gives us in Jesus Christ. Gradually, God’s grace began to transform her heart and her parenting.

Jeannie offers two simple tools for becoming a grace filled mom so that anger does not win with your kids:

  • Don’t do anything in the heat of the moment.  Yes, Mom, you can take a time out. When you do, Jeannie says, “Ask Jesus to help you remember your own brokenness and empower you to parent through the Cross.” In doing this, we model for our kids how to respond rather than react.
  • Pray – right there, right then. Jeannie says when you want to yell at your kids, yell out to God instead. Ask Him to help you. It might sound crazy to you and look nuts to your kids, but that is okay. Teach kids to take any and all things to Jesus.

She shares other ways you can nurture your child with God’s grace by carrying the Three R’s: Remember, Rely, and Recognize with you throughout each day:

  • Remember what Jesus has already done for us. For example, when your child doesn’t want to seek forgiveness from or grant forgiveness to one another (1) Take a moment to remember that God has already forgiven every sin we have ever or will ever commit. (2) Then turn to Scripture, such as Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV).
  • Rely on the power He gives us to live in obedience. For example, share the story of David and Goliath with your kids and point them to God. David’s victory pointed not to man’s strength, but to God’s strength alone. God showed off His strength in David’s weakness.
  • Recognize His faithfulness to grow us. Don’t get stuck in a pattern of only instructing and correcting your children. Also, take time to actively look for and acknowledge the fruit of God’s grace in your kids’ lives. If you have a child who struggles with his temper make sure you take time to praise him when he chooses self-control.

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Guest Info


Author, latest, Mom Set Free, (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2017)

Previous to writing, Jeannie traveled the country (48 states) speaking about adoption and parenting

Featured on The Today Show, Fox News, etc.

Serves on the board of Raising Boys Ministries

Writes for The Better Mom and Fox News

Received a BS in Human Development/Family Studies from Auburn University and a MSW from the University of Alabama

Married to Mike

Four boys: Cal, 13,  Owen, 10,  Brennan, 7, and Finn, 1


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