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Set Yourself Free from Parenting Perfection

Author Jeannie Cunnion warns moms not to be caught up in the worry, anger, guilt and shame that comes from the expectation to be a "perfect parent". Read Transcript

Jeannie Cunnion had big plans for motherhood,

then she had kids.

Four of them as a matter of fact, all boys.

Well, soon Jeannie found herself falling

short of her own standards, and it was driving her crazy.

NARRATOR: As a mother of four boys, author

Jeannie Cunnion says, she was determined

to be the perfect mom with perfect kids.

But her plan unravelled, when the stress

of pretending to have it altogether

left her fearful, angry, and feeling guilty.

JEANNIE CUNNION: Moms are under so much pressure.

We're told that we have to get it all right for our kids

to turn out right.

We're told that their entire futures

are riding on our ability to perfectly orchestrate

their lives.

In "Mom Set Free," Jeannie shares

how she found relief from the pressures of parenting,

and how you could become the mom you long to be for your kids.

Jeannie Cunnion is with us now,

and we welcome her back to "The 700 Club."

It's great to have you here.

Thank you so much for having me.

It's great to be here.

What a great book.

I mean, every-- every woman should read this

prior to having her children.

But she won't really get it 'til after she has her children.

It's once you have children, yes.

What were your expectations before you

had children of motherhood?

Very unrealistic.

I hadn't set a very high bar.

I was raised in a really wonderful home with parents

who set a great example for me, and I

thought how hard can this be?



TERRY MEEUWSEN: If it's expected of me,

must be achievable, right?


You know one of the other things

about having anything that's perfectionism

driven in our lives, I think, Jeannie, is it sounds so good.

You know, there are other things like addiction,

or you know, gossip, or whatever,

that could be short falls in our lives--

short comings in our lives, that sound as bad as they are.

But perfectionism, somehow, contains that word perfect,

and we feel like we should be able to achieve that.

How did that impact you?

Well the reality that perfection actually

becomes an idol in our lives


--was very convicting for me.

And as I began to read and better understand freedom

in Christ in discovering that, if I even

had a shot at perfection, then Jesus Christ died for nothing--


--and so it gave me this new freedom to say to my kids, hey,

I'm not the one you want your eyes on.

I'm not the one you want to worship.

There is only one who has never and will never let you down,

and that one is not me.

That is Jesus.

So how did your quest for perfectionism

impact you before you came to the realization

you just talked about?

I mean, how did--

how did you have that aha moment of I can't do this?

There were several moments where

I saw the shame that I was living in,

because I felt so ashamed of my inability

to be who I wanted to be for my kids.

As I witnessed that shame flowing out of me

and into my parenting--


-- that was very convicting, and that's when I really fell

on my knees and said, God, I need your grace.

I need to know your grace, if I want

to be able to give my grace to your kids.

I wanted so desperately to reflect the heart of God

to them, but I wasn't receiving his heart for me.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: For every Christian mom,

I think that is the bottom line.

And you do feel like, it's my responsibility

to be sure that they get it.

You know, that their little hearts are transformed.

But the truth of the matter is, we really

can transform a heart, can we?

Right, right.

We can help them understand what's going on inside of it.


We have a very important role to play in their lives,

but we can not transform it.

And so freedom comes when we remember

that God is sovereign not us.

We are significant, but we are not sovereign.

So share a little bit about how you do bring

that message to your children.

Because when kids are little, you know,

our understanding includes words like--

propitiation, atonement, I mean, where are you

going with your kids with that?

And how do you show them the reality of what Jesus did

and who he is?

Yeah, weaving the gospel into our everyday

lives looks a lot like me being willing to say me too.


I get it.

I struggle too.

Being willing to say sorry when I fall and get it wrong.


Coming alongside them in their weakness,

rather than down on them.

Really just a desire to reflect God's heart in those moments

where they stumble and fall just like I do.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: You share a moment in the book, where

you and your son had a little altercation with each other,

and you were so unhappy with your response,

that you just got down on the ground next to him.

Talk about that.

Yeah, it was a time in my parenting

when I was very much living in shame,

and so I was parenting with that.

And he had made a mistake.

And when he had done that, I said something like,

how could you?

Who does something like that?

And the look in his eyes broke my heart.

And it was a very convicting and freeing moment in my parenting,

because it was the Lord's invitation to me to say,

oh I know why you do that son, because I do that too.

I need Jesus too.

And we prayed together.

And I asked for his forgiveness, and we-- and we

received the Lord's forgiveness together.

You know, our kids do have a tendency

to put us at the top of the heap rather than God,

unless we acknowledge our shortcomings, and our need.

Unless we are willing to apologize.

I think sometimes people feel like if they do that,

they're giving free license to their child to behave

as-- as they say, well you do it--


--why can't I do it?

But it doesn't work like that.

It doesn't.

And I think if we want--

if we want to raise kids who confess sin willingly

and repent sincerely, then we have to go first.

They have to see in us a freedom in Christ to say, hey,

we have a Savior, a rescuer, who has forgiven us.

And his mercy is new every morning,

and we are free, free from that condemnation and shame.

You know, you share another incident in the book about

a woman who was teaching young people in a class--

children in a class.

And she asked two questions.

I mean, it was really--

I thought to myself, as I read it, boy,

my kids would have answered like that when they were little.

She said--?

How many of you think that you have to be good for God

to love you?

And this was teaching children in a Sunday school room.

And it revealed that we are like--

Performance oriented.

We're very performance oriented, even

in our relationship with God.

And he desires to free us from that,

so that we will love it and serve Him, not for his love,

but from a place of already knowing we are loved.

And her second question was, and if you aren't good,

or you do something bad, how many of you

believe it changes whether God loves you or not?

That he'll stop loving you?

And again she said, all of the children raised their hands.



Boy that's not the message we want to send--

It is not.

--to our kids.

So how do you parent?

I mean, your-- you've got a 13-year-old?


And a one-year-old?


TERRY MEEUWSEN: Now those are two opposite--

JEANNIE CUNNION: And a 10 and an 8 in between.


TERRY MEEUWSEN: Opposite ends of the spectrum for the oldest

and the youngest.

How do you bring this message differently to each of them?

Oh, do we have the whole hour?

I would love to talk about that.

It's-- this is the key question for me, what--

regardless of their age, how can I reflect the heart of God

in this moment?

That's what parenting with grace really is.

It's not the absence of boundaries,

and consistency and rules.

All those things are so essential.

It's just, how can I weave the unconditional love of God

into how I handle this moment with

my 13-year-old, 10-year-old, seven-year-old, and even

my one-year-old?

You know I think it's so easy to get caught up in just

the messiness of day-to-day living.

But what you're really talking about in "Mom Set Free,"

your book, is parenting with intention--


-- specific goals, like you just mentioned, in mind.

And you make it so clear that it can be done.

And so I just want to say to those of you who are moms,

this is a book you just can't get enough of,

but you can get more of what we've

talked about today, Jeannie's great advice

by getting her book.

It's called "Mom Set Free."

Find relief from the pressure to get it all right.

It's available in stores nationwide,

and it'll give you all the info and the ammo

that you need to parent the way your heart really wants to.

And we so often feel our own weakness and insufficiency

in that.


Jeannie, thank you for being with us.

What a great message you bring.

Thank you for having me, such a pleasure.


"Mom Set Free" Get set free.

Thank you.

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