I opened the refrigerator door after dinner to store leftover chicken noodle soup. A neatly packed lunch bag caught my eye. Something was off. Of my five teenagers, not one packs their school lunch the night before. Lunches are always made in the morning chaos of, “Can you pick me up after practice?” and “Mom, the bread is moldy,” and “I love you, Mom.” 

I opened the lunch to investigate who it belonged to. Looking inside was like a punch to the gut. Packed between ham sandwiches and pretzels was an extra tall Bud Light beer. The owner of this lunch would have explaining to do and severe grounding to face. 

Where did I go wrong as a mother? 

That question falsely assumes our value as moms is connected to our children’s behavior and choices. Good moms (or I should say, moms who have been through a few Target checkout meltdowns or a beer lunch interrogation) know differently. 

Good Moms Don’t Measure Success By Their Kids’ Behaviors

Good moms know if you measure your worth by your kids’ accomplishments or missteps, you are both going to be miserable. Our children were never meant to fulfill in us what only Jesus can. 

That’s too much pressure to put on kids—our own happiness. We are not guaranteed their health, good moods, salvation, or aiming properly for the toilet. When we find our fulfillment in Jesus, we are free to parent from love instead of having something to prove. 

Rather than measuring your parenting success by outcomes you can’t control, measure by the only thing you can: what you put in. 

RELATED: The Fact That You Worry About Being a Good Mom Means You Already Are One

Good Moms Grow

The best indicator for raising kids who don’t walk away from their faith has little to do with how we sleep train, where we work, or if our kids eat bright orange chips instead of $4 organic crackers. Research from the Barna Group suggests more is caught than taught in parenting. 

Kids are more impacted by what we do than what we say. Personally, this is frightening to me. How will I teach them to talk kindly to one another while I’m yelling? 

Accepting ourselves as broken human beings raising broken human beings is the fertile ground we need to heal. In the process of raising five children, they were raising me. Good moms know they don’t measure up but are committed to asking, “How can I grow from this?” 

RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me

Good Moms Aim For a B-

The point of good parenting is not being perfect—it’s what you do after you mess up. Good moms know their kids will learn more from one humble parental apology than they will from a Pinterest-perfect mom who makes themed soccer snacks packs. Our mistakes teach kids they aren’t the only ones who mess up. 

What if B- parenting is good enough?

An incredible thing happens when we stop hiding from our weaknesses as parents. Christ’s power rests on us. When we step off the throne, stop trying to be God in our children’s lives and save them, we can come to our kids as fellow sinners and lead them to the grace of the cross.

Dropping the judgment of ourselves gives us permission to have more compassion for our children’s behaviors, too. We were never meant to be examples of God to our kids. We were meant to be examples of messing up just like them and receiving the mercy and forgiveness of God. “I understand, I am the same way,” is how God’s power rests on us as parents in weakness. 

The day-in, day-out parent you are is heroic and changing your child’s life. It is enough, and you are a good mom. 

Ashley Christian

Ashley is an author and frequent contributor to the Gospel Centered Health team. She is married and has five teens/tweens through birth, foster care, and adoption. You can find her ministry for keeping moms emotionally healthy at www.marginsformoms.com.