No More Superhero Moms & Dads
God knows that if there’s anything our world needs, it’s certainly not more super-parents. We need plain old boring moms and dads.
Such is what author and speaker Chad Bird asserts in a new piece over on Mockingbird, entitled, “Super-Moms, Über-Dads, and Other People Who Don’t Exist,” throughout which he endeavors to effectively trim the fantastical parental ideals with which we regale ourselves. I, too, am in conflict with the future dad I am (often) failing to become. Coping with the idea that I will never be the “super-dad” who is able to keep work and play and wife and kids and everything else in perfect equilibrium is something with which I constantly struggle.
There are moments when I feel less than helpless and more than pathetic as a parent. And I absolutely cannot stand those moments. The imaginative “super-dad” is a deadly distraction from being present right now. But as Chad points out so excellently, that’s not even the kind of parent my kids need. They don’t need a “super-mom” or “über-dad.” They need the kind of parents “who are more concerned with modeling humble, loving service to their children than hothousing them into super-babies who out-SAT and out-GPA their classmates.” He continues:
The kind of parents who are utter failures at perfectionism, at being heroes and heroines, at maintaining complete control of their child’s upbringing — in short, who fail at being gods — in order that the grace of God might succeed in our lives as moms and dads as well as in the lives of our children.
Most of all, we need the kind of parents who see their primary identity not as parents but as children. Before we are fathers, we are the sons of God. Before we are mothers, we are the daughters of God. Before we are anything else—parents, spouses, workers, citizens—we are children of our heavenly Father, adopted through Christ into a heavenly family. That foundational identity, based solely on grace, can then form our other identities and vocations in this life.
We don’t wear capes but the righteousness of Jesus. We aren’t tiger moms but the Father’s lambs. We aren’t training superkids but beloved sons and daughters of the King . . . Blessed are those who fail at being supermoms and superdads, for they are forgiven children of our Father in heaven.
This is the hope for me as a parent. It begins with relinquishing hope in myself — releasing my grip on my “superhero father ideal” — and acknowledging my utter incapability to change, much less save, my children. What’s more, that isn’t even my role. Neither is it my wife’s. We are not the agents of change in our kids’ lives. We can no more effect change in their lives than we can control them. Our role, however, is much simpler but no less significant. We have been called to represent the Change Agent. And we do that in no more exceptional way than in our unexceptionality. Than in embracing our ordinariness and loving our children in the present moment.
Read this piece by Chad. His words functioned like a surgeon’s scalpel slicing away my parental ego. I pray you will, likewise, be encouraged by it.