Perfectly imperfect: Guiding your kids to press on

Written by Melanie Domen
Published on November 26, 2021

This “perfectly imperfect” truth all hit me when I was outside playing catch with my four year old son. He loved baseball, and as much as I tried, I could not throw that ball perfectly in his glove. It would go between his legs, over the fence, to the left, to the right. 

We would laugh, and I would say, “Buddy, I am so sorry. You can do this with Daddy when he gets home.” He would say, “No, Mom! This is fun!” Turns out, my imperfect skills in baseball trained up a really good first baseman. 

When this little guy joined a little league team, he was the best choice for first base because he could catch any ball those developing little arms of his teammates would throw to him. 

Watching from the stands, I would just laugh as spectating parents would marvel at his “natural ability” to catch any ball thrown at him. Whether too high, too low, just out of reach, or in the other team’s dugout, my kid was like velcro to that ball. 

Weakness and strength

In fact, this “perfectly imperfect” truth applied to every part of my parenthood. I stopped running from my weaknesses, instead embracing them, and trusted that God would perfect them, in the same way he perfected my squirrelly throws, to bring about something even greater than my perfection could on my best day. 

I learned that “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).

My imperfect cooking abilities became an invitation to bring my kids in the kitchen and fix meals we all liked. They devoured pizzas made out of rolled out biscuit dough, burnt on the bottom. 

My imperfect laundry skills became an invitation to sit on the bed and race to get the most sock matches. My kids loved the warm laundry out of the dryer, and 8-10 years later when I told them as 12 year olds they would be in charge of their own laundry, they were actually happy about it. 

My tendency to forget a lot (because, undiagnosed ADHD and sleep deprivation) created kids who have learned how to remember things and be responsible for their own schedules and deadlines. 

They also learned the phrase, “Mom, will you look at me?” When needing to tell me something important because of that constantly changing channel in my brain. This is a phrase we use a lot in the house, in fact, when we need to make sure we are heard. 

My quick temper became an opportunity to show my kids what it looks like to struggle, pray, memorize scripture, develop, mess up again, have grace, and then eventually be free of a struggle that so easily entangled me. 

“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, for your anger will never make things right in God’s sight” (James 1:19) was written on index cards all over my house along with “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1).

Not a lost cause

In fact, I once heard that struggling with an issue and then having the grit and courage to change in front of your kids is far better for them than never struggling at all, or in fact, perfection

The reason this is so powerful is because a kid sees that this God-given role model in their life, this parent, is not perfect, but works hard to do better, and that change is possible. The next time they struggle, they will remember they too can change with some prayer, hard work, and grit. Their struggles will never make them a “lost cause.” 

In fact, “you are perfectly imperfect” has become a motto around my house. Every time a family member messes up from a bad grade to a missed deadline to a messy room, to a temper flared, we usually begin with, “you are perfectly imperfect.” 

We do not rest in this, however, and allow these issues to go unchanged. It just helps to know that perfectionism is not the goal. It never will be. The truth is that the growth that comes from the imperfection is the reward, as a fragrant fruit on the vine is the reward that comes from tilling the soil. 

Love your family

I love how Brene Brown says it, “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” 

The goal of our family is to create a space for that “love and belonging” rather than perfectionism. Another phrase we say is “the road to wisdom is paved with mistakes.” 

We want to be a home that is safe to make mistakes in, because if we embrace them, rather than shame them, we will grow wise. I cannot preach this enough! 

We live in a perfectly imperfect world. The suicide rate, terrorist attacks, school shootings, child trafficking, all of these issues, alone, can get so very scary as a parent. 

I remember one time I was at a Love and Logic conference for facilitators. I was sitting by myself eating breakfast, watching the news. This was back in 2015, and the threat of terror was all over America, especially in the form of ISIS. The breaking news of the day was that ISIS was recruiting over 2,000 teenagers from the western nations to come fight against their home country, the United States of America. 

Some were as young as 15 years old. My heart sank, and I lost my appetite. I stopped and just prayed a prayer of desperation for our country and asked God what a mom of 4 like me could do to stop this. 

I don’t always claim to hear an audible voice from God, but if I have ever heard God actually speak to me, it was at this moment as my tears were pouring into my sunny side up eggs. 

I felt him say, “You are doing something about this. Look where you are. You are at a conference learning how to teach parents how to parent their kids with Love and Logic. This is what changes the world.” 

I then remembered the quote from Mother Teresa I had plastered all over my house and social media accounts “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” 

Kids we like to be around

This is how we conquer the enemy who is salivating at the opportunity to destroy our youth. We figure out how to love, guide, and discipline them effectively so that they know what true love looks and feels like. 

We raise kids who know it is okay not to be perfect, but they love themselves enough to get up and try better and grow wiser. We raise kids who see beyond themselves and help those in need, from a smile to a hurting soul to a meal for a family who is battling cancer to a friend who just needs to be heard. 

We raise kids that we (and others) actually like to be around. We raise leaders who are asked to lead in places from the student body to the fortune 500 company to the mission field to their own homes (where all of the good stuff happens anyway.) 


Consider a few extra resources:

How to avoid power struggles with your children

“How one simple practice changed the way I parent”

How to Ease the Press for Perfection in Your Parenting

Live perfectly imperfect

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Melanie Domen

 she has raised her four kids ages 19, 17, 13, and 9 with her husband, Jeff, of 23 years.  She is a skilled communicator, and parenting coach who inspires parents to build strong relationships with their children, while  also establishing healthy boundaries and communication.  Melanie is certified in Love and Logic®, and has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Baylor University.   Melanie’s “happy place” is at home, around the dinner table with her family, followed by dishes and dancing in the kitchen.

Read more about Melanie

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