After all, we are bombarded with messages about the importance of time with our kids, involvement in our kids’ lives, and putting our family first among our priorities.

Magazines are crammed with articles dispensing the newest parenting techniques and advice.

Studies consistently show the ill effects of bad parenting. Churches preach the need to put families first. With all of this pressure comes just more fear and feelings of inadequacy.

And then there’s the most intense pressure of all: How we do as parents will reverberate throughout history. We are raising the next generation, and they will either continue the success and progress of past generations or they will erase it all. Anyone feeling overwhelmed?

Parenting is serious business. The stakes are unbelievably high. The cost of failure is unimaginable. I know you feel the intense weight of performing as a parent. You may wonder if you’re the only one who sometimes feels inadequate, even inept. You may wonder: Is it supposed to be this hard? The answer is yes. And no. Yes, parenting is hard, and it’s supposed to be. We’ll get to that in the next few chapters.

But no, we don’t have to feel this much pressure. We don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

The Most Damaging Lie About Parenting

The reason we feel so overwhelmed is because most of us are attempting to follow an impossible model. And it is fueled by a dangerous lie. Here is the most damaging lie about parenting: We are responsible for our children.

I know that to even question such a statement sounds ridiculous. “Of course I’m responsible for my kids…who else would be?” I can only ask you to bear with me and keep reading.

You see, most people would define parenting like this: “It is our job as parents to get our children to think, feel, and, especially, behave the right way. It is our job to get our children to be good.” Of course that’s right, right? Wrong.

Now, let me be clear. In my experience working with families, I’ve seen the devastating effects of terrible parenting on now-grown adults. Certainly we have a profound amount of influence on how our kids turn out. This book will illustrate the power we have to shape our children. In fact, I don’t think we can overestimate this influence we have on future generations.

But what that really means is that we have a far greater responsibility to our children than we have for our children. Let me say that again, so it will sink in. We are much less responsible for our children than we’ve ever been told.

However, we have a far greater responsibility to our children than we’ve ever realized. Most of us feel like we’re responsible for our children. Sure, they’re totally dependent on us right from the beginning. But let’s think about that for a moment. If we are responsible for our children, then we have a really big problem. How long did it take you to realize that your child had a mind of her own? Early on, our children start to make their own choices. This is part of growing up. In truth, this is growing up. Even in infancy our kids start to embrace their God-given ability to make decisions about what they will and will not do. They begin to choose how they feel, how they think, and how they behave.

I know this concept is simplistic, but it carries all the seeds of our frustration in raising kids. They simply make different choices than we want them to make! They choose to yell and scream in the grocery store. They choose not to do their homework. They choose to break curfew and disrespect our rules. They choose to throw their waffles on the floor in front of a restaurant full of people!

If you are responsible for your children, then you have to figure out how to program them to make the “right” choices. And you need to do it quickly. You have to learn the right techniques to get them to think, feel, and behave according to your definition of “good.”