How Would You Define a Perfect Parent?

If I asked you to give a definition of a perfect parent, what would you say? You might give such characteristics as:
  • Makes sure your family has dinner together at least 5 times a week. 
  • Has children in church every week. 
  • Provides children with necessities, such as clothing and food. 
  • Loves Jesus more than anything.
  • Gives children opportunities and experiences through extracurricular activities. 
  • Protects children from dangers. 
  • Defining (or eliminating) specific roles in the family.
  • Helps children with schoolwork.
  • etc. 

There has to be a better definition than these details. Maybe we can only look ahead and see the results, and then work backwards.

Before my wife and I had children, and when our kids were young, we were blessed to be around families that had older children. We saw behaviors and attitudes in those children that we wanted our own kids to have, so we sought wisdom from those parents. Though we never phrased it this way, we were often looking for a formula for parenting success.

But is there an example of a perfect parent? Of course! Without sounding cliche, can we agree that our heavenly Father is a perfect parent? (OK, that does sound cliche. Sorry.)

Our God is a perfect protector (John 10:27-29), provider (Psalm 23:1), teacher (John 14:26), and more. But let's see how that turned out for Israel, in Hosea 11:1-7:
1 When Israel was a youth I loved him, 
  And out of Egypt I called My son.  
2 The more they called them, 
  The more they went from them; 
  They kept sacrificing to the Baals 
  And burning incense to idols
3 Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk
  I took them in My arms
  But they did not know that I healed them.  
4 I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love
  And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws
  And I bent down and fed them.  
5 They will not return to the land of Egypt
  But Assyria - he will be their king  
  Because they refused to return to Me. 
6 The sword will whirl against their cities
  And will demolish their gate bars 
  And consume them because of their counsels.  
7 So My people are bent on turning from Me. 
  Though they call them to the One on high,  
  None at all exalts Him.  

How did Israel respond to God's perfect parenting? They completely rejected Him! For all that the Lord did to show them love, they refused to trust in and exalt Him. Isaiah 1:4 says that Israel abandoned and despised the LORD.

If God, who is a perfect Father, has rebellious children, then I don't need to expect to get perfect results in how I parent.

Even if your children despise and turn away from you (and most of us will not experience this, but many of us will), know that you are not alone. Your heavenly Father experienced the same.

So, however we define "perfect parenting," let's make sure that we don't define it solely by results. Our children are broken sinners, in need of grace. And so are we as parents.  

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments: How would you define a perfect parent?

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**image courtesy of Library of Congress via flickr


  1. Ha! Love the list--even though we might meet some of those criteria, we FAIL at perfection! To me, perfect parenting (the old legalistic side of me rebels at that word:) involves seeing our children discipled. This fleshes out in different ways, but ultimately ushering them into an encounter with Jesus and watching them place their hope daily in Him.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, and reminder that we can do many things well and still fail at perfection.

      And I agree with your ultimate goal for parenting.

  2. I think the idea of G-d being the perfect parent is cliched because it's true and is the only consistently reliable example of what a parent should be and do for his or her children. Knowing that we can't perform at the G-d level, but that he's working in us, I know that we can do more than we may think because He empowers us to do good works and works of great purpose/ significance.

    Another thought that came to mind is I remember hearing that the word "perfect" also means complete. I think that pertains to the Greek, but it may be for both Greek and Hebrew. That kinda makes sense and follows the Hebraic practice of wordplay that Bible writers often used as in passages like James 1 where it says, "count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing," (I don't Greek, or what the Greek text looks like, so this idea may not be consistent, but it's kind of a neat idea/ pattern.)

    With that in mind, I think the standard by which I am most complete as a parent involves consistent integrity and humility. My hope is that I will live in such a way as to be a good example of a disciple of G-d and Jesus, so I may tell my daughters like Paul said to Timothy, the things I gave to you, do those. :)

    1. I meant to say that I don't know Greek. O_o

    2. These are great thoughts, and I appreciate you adding your insight. I think you have something there, with the idea of being complete. And as you say, it's not that we are perfect / complete, but that God is MAKING us that.