Successful parents. It’s what we strive to become for our children, but rarely feel we’ve achieved.

Our impossible standards of perfect parenting drive our attitudes and expectations for ourselves and our children. We want to believe that if we parent the “right” way, that we will in return bring up good kids who fit our desired outcome. We also want to believe that if our kids are perfect, then that says something of our parenting and most importantly ourselves – that we ourselves are right and good.

But as we all know too well, perfection is simply not possible. Why is it, then, that this lie is so deeply engrained in our hearts and minds, driving our every action? How do you parent “good” children? How do you prevent them from becoming “bad”?

The truths about parenting cannot be found in a list of rules or regulations. It can only be found in following Jesus and letting his Spirit lead. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he led us away from a performance-based lifestyle into a grace-filled life with the Holy Spirit. God knew we couldn’t live life alone; he knew that without Jesus, the fruits of our labor couldn’t produce a thing. In other words, without Jesus, even our best attempts at parenting could not turn our child “good.”

In John 15 of the Message, Jesus puts it this way:

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.”

It is through a partnership with the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides us according to his holy wisdom, that we can “successfully” parent our children. However, our success does not promise our teen will always act correctly – troubled teens are not always a result of inadequate parenting.

Our job as parents is to parent out of our best hopes instead of our worst fears; to give him or her the necessary tools, guidance and resources to make the right choices, and to leave the rest up to God.

We must cast away the idea that if we aren’t perfect and our children aren’t perfect, that everything is ruined.  Our kids will have moments of disobedience and some will struggle with a real hard issue – but just as Jesus has overcome, so shall our teens.

Parenting with grace doesn’t mean excluding obedience, respect or discipline, it means leading and disciplining our kids out of our best expectations for them. We must let God come alongside us in our areas of weakness and ask that he help us lead and parent in the way of His nature, character and everlasting love.

All in all, successful parenting means failure is not the end, because His grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9 : But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.