pancakesMaking pumpkin pancakes is much harder than I thought. So is being a dad.

Last Saturday I thought I’d try out our new mixer. After all, it is fall, so pumpkin pancakes seem to be calling my name. As for the mixer, well, we got it last Christmas and I wasn’t about to let a whole 12-months go by without trying it out.

Chandler, my 3 and a half-year-old (the “half” is important), pulled out the stool to get counter-height and give me a hand. I looked up an “easy pumpkin pancake recipe” on the laptop in front of us. We got to work, adding everything into the mixer, just as it said.

The mixing was the easy part. In fact, getting all the right ingredients with the right proportions was a piece of cake (no pun intended). It was the cooking, flipping, and perfecting that gave me trouble. At first I burnt each pancake. Then I undercooked them. Not one pancake was round – all of them had some kind of ameba shape to them. I tried to douse the finished product in syrup, but that didn’t seem to help. Even my one and a half-year-old daughter, who usually eats anything, refused to take a second bite.

I used to think that raising kids was going to be like making pancakes. I thought as long as I put all the right ingredients in, in the right order and proportion, I would get a perfect kid. Wrong. No matter how many books I read – or should I say “Recipes” – there is no guarantee as to how my kids will turn out.

Don’t get me wrong, we must do all we can do “instruct” our kids in the way of the Lord (Deut. 6:7). We should invest in them all the godly knowledge and wisdom that we can each and every day. But to think that there is some recipe to follow that will guarantee results is wrong and even idolatrous. When we become more concerned about the recipes than the kid, we’ve missed what God called us to do.

My calling is to be a faithful parent. This means that I must be intently focused on the individual kid and all his unique characteristics, than trying all the tricks and techniques to make him who I want him to be.

A “paint by number” approach to parenting will breed pride. Working merely to do all that the books tell you to do will cause fatigue and discouragement. Follow the guidance of the Bible (first!), then read everything you can get your hands on about being a better mom or dad. In the end, don’t replace your relationship with written material. Trust the guiding of the Holy Spirit to show you how to be a faithful parent in the same way God faithfully parents you. Our primary goal is to point them to Him.

God is the only perfect parent. Thank Him for all He is and strive only to parent in Him image.