Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 17th June 2014

#TellHisStory: The Farce of “Perfect” Parenting (And a Giveaway!)

I met Jeannie Cunnion online earlier this year, when our debut books hit bookstores within weeks of each other. We clicked immediately, sharing a common passion for God’s Word and His unrelenting grace. Jeannie wrote a beautiful book called Parenting the Wholehearted Child.

In her book, she reminds us: “Your kids aren’t perfect. And you don’t have to be either.” It’s an incredibly important message of grace and “preapproval” for parents who are trying hard to do their best.

Kathie Lee Gifford said of Jeannie’s book: “Rarely do I ever find myself agreeing with everything I read in a book. But Parenting the Wholehearted Child is the book I wish I’d written. Jeannie has given parents a profound gift within its pages.”

Welcome, Jeannie, to the blog.


parenting the wholehearted child


The Farce of “Perfect” Parenting
By Jeannie Cunnion

lamp in bedroom

It’s finally quiet. All three boys are tucked into bed, breathing in deeply the rest their bodies crave. I give them each one more kiss before I walk slowly down our old wooden stairs.

My body is tired, my spirit is worn.

I barely make it to the couch before the tears begin to fall. Shame curls up beside me and whispers all my parenting failures – “You looked at your iPhone more than you looked in their eyes, you yelled because your three-year-old was—gasp—acting like a three-year-old, and you hurried them along instead of stopping to enjoy the wonder that is childhood.”

children painting dandelion girl

I’m sinking deeper into despair when I hear the front door open. It’s my husband. I know what he’ll do when he sees me. This isn’t an unusual scenario, after all. He curls up beside me, on the other side of shame, and whispers, “You’re an amazing mom. Those boys know you love them. Stop trying so hard.”But I can’t hear him. I mean, I hear him but I can’t receive his words. I determine to do better tomorrow, and I head to bed.

But tomorrow always ended up looking a lot like today.

The pressure to be a perfect parent raising perfect kids who love a perfect God had made its home in my heart.

Grace was lost on me.

And ultimately I did what every striving-for-perfection parent does. I crashed.

Fresh out of tips and steps for getting it all right so my kids would turn out all right, I did the only thing left to do. I began to confess my weaknesses with unclenched fists and heart split open. “I’ve tried to make you proud, Lord. I’ve done everything I know to do to raise kids who make you proud, but I can’t pull it off. I just can’t try this hard anymore.”

This surrender, which didn’t happen overnight, allowed my heart to finally find the rest it craved in the healing truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

Oh the joy that filled my soul. Now I knew, I can stop striving for the perfection that is already mine in Christ Jesus. “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Grace has set me free.


unwavering love

unrestrained affection

unconditional acceptance

unending forgiveness

All mine. All yours.

In Christ.

Not because of anything we do or don’t do but because of everything Jesus has already done for us.

The burden, the angst, the striving—exchanged for joy, for hope, for peace. All extraordinary gifts given when our hearts surrender to his grace.

Of course, I still stumble and fall in this beautiful thing called motherhood. I daily echo the words of Paul in Romans 7:21, I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” But now I don’t cling to the guilt and shame. Instead, I confess it out loud and give wild thanks for Jesus. Revelation of my sin leads me to revel in God’s grace.

And what I’m learning, what God is teaching me on a daily basis, is that until we accept His unrestricted love and absolute acceptance of us, we will struggle in vain to let it flow through us to our kids. But when His grace begins to transform our hearts, it also begins to transform our parenting. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what His grace does through us when we surrender to his wholehearted acceptance of us.

This is the good news we can rest in!


Jeannie Cunnion is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child. Her book is for anyone who wants to experience what happens when parents and children alike learn to live from the freedom found in being

Jeannie Cunnion wholeheartedly loved (and liked!) by God. Jeannie has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues for organizations such as Bethany Christian Services and the National Council for Adoption. Jeannie also serves as the Council Co-Chairman at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT, where she enjoys leading various parenting courses and Bible studies when she isn’t cheering on her boys at one of their sporting events! She would love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Book Giveaway

I am delighted to offer a copy of Parenting the Wholehearted Child to one blessed winner. Easy entry, using the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be selected randomly, and will be notified by email.


Enter to win. Giveaway ends Friday at noon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Head over to Jeannie’s blog today, where she’s giving away a copy of Love Idol.

So, what’s your Story?

A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!

  • What a beautiful post! I would love to read her book. 🙂

    • Thanks for being here, Cheryl.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Cheryl. I pray it will bless you and encourage you in His great love for you!

  • Kelly Greer

    Oh Jeannie – God has shown me exactly what you wrote here. His grace is sufficient. His mercies new every morning. I wish I would have known these truths when my children were little. I pray other moms would come to walk in this truth and that your book would help them to come to understand the very simple truth that we are – none of us – perfect. So glad to meet you through Jennifer. Blessings on your journey.

    • Thanks for stopping by Kelly. And for your #preapproved post. It’s so good.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      So glad to meet you too Kelly. Your #preapproved post was really beautiful. How amazing that we can rest in the perfection of Christ and enjoy our #preapproval in Him!

  • Thank you so much for hosting! 🙂 I pinned your party to my Link Ups board 🙂

    • Wonderful! Grateful for your pin.

  • Asheritah Ciuciu

    This post resonated with me, especially the following quote: “Revelation of my sin leads me to revel in God’s grace. We all need to be reminded of our daily need for grace, and the beautiful blessing that is endless grace. Thanks for the post Jeannie!

    • So good … yes. Thanks for stopping by, Asheritah.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks for your kind words Asheritah! Thank God for His grace that washes away all of our sin and shame and leads us right to the wild love of Jesus!

  • I think I will be recommending this book to the mums I speak to in future.

    • Yes! Me, too, Sandra.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks so much Sandra. That would be wonderful!

  • Pam

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Parenting the Wholehearted Child.

  • So good. Adding this link to #BlogitForward. We could all use refreshing reminders to give up the pursuit of perfection in parenting and fall into the sovereign Father’s guiding hands instead. They are HIS children and given to us to steward. May we trust His leading day by day, moment by moment. And oh that cannot be micro-managed for them or micro-corrected in our hearts. Grace & mercy along the way.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Hey Jolene. So good to meet you here. And thanks so much for adding the link to #BlogitForward. We all need the daily (hourly!) reminder we can rest in the perfection of Christ! Bless you!

  • amber chapais

    Thank you so much for a chance to win a great book

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks for entering to win! Bless you!

  • Jeannie Cunnion

    Jennifer, Thank you for gift of sharing my story with your friends today. How beautiful that grace sets us free to “boast in our weaknesses” so that Christ’s strength can be glorified in it. As you said in Love Idol, “Eyes. On Jesus.” I’m so thankful for YOUR book that carried me so much deeper into this truth and freedom.

  • soulstops


    Yes, grace…His grace received when we give Him our weakness…many blessings on you and your book…may it encourage many weary moms 🙂

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thank you! I’m one of those weary moms on a lot of days! Preaching grace to myself everyday.

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  • Oh yes, there’s no way I’d survive as a parent without giving myself and receiving grace. It’s a new lesson for me but it is a healthy one and oh so good. Excited about the opportunity to win your book!

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      God is so good to open our eyes to the radical nature of His grace. His love never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for entering to win!

  • It is SO difficult to feel preapproved in our parenting! What a great gift this book would make, for several moms I know! Thank you for this opportunity! <3 Heart Hugs, Shelly

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks so much Shelly. I pray it will bless those moms abundantly and point them straight to the wholehearted love of God in Christ.

  • Peg Fury

    Good stuff. Sometimes I worry so about our daughter, adopted through foster care, and whether she will allow God to take hold of her. And then I remember I need first to let Him take hold of me. Thanks for this.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Oh Peg, I certainly understand those concerns after working in the adoption world for the last 15 years. And yet I have also seen the grace of God do more than we could ever ask or imagine in the hearts of countless children adopted out of very hard circumstances. His grace is enough. Keep praying and remember He loves our children even more than we do. He won’t let go!

  • Great post! I would love to be able to donate this book to our MOPS group. So many young women I loved into parenting over the years. Many struggling with this very issue. If nothing else, i.e. I don’t win, I’ll purchase a copy to donate. Thanks for the post!

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks for entering on behalf of your MOPS group Sherry. I have to spoken to several MOPS groups in this area and have always really enjoyed the women I’ve had the privilege to meet. If you don’t win, shoot me an email on my website and I’d be happy to send you a copy for your MOPS group. Their mission is close to my heart!

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  • Jone

    That looks like a great book. I probably need to add it to my list whether I win one or not.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks for entering Jone! I pray it blesses you richly!

  • Laurie Collett

    Praise God that our family (and He) love us in spite of our imperfections! Thanks for hosting & God bless!

  • Bobbie Jo

    Thanks for sharing! I have add this book to my Amazon wish list now too. 🙂

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Wonderful Bobbie Jo! I pray it blesses and encourages you. All is grace.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for this post, it was a blessing to read.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks Michelle. I’m so thankful to know it blessed you.

  • I am a grandmother, and I can see from this vantage point that even imperfect parenting can still be used of God to help mold and love the next generation. Great gift for moms of today. sounds like a refreshing book.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      That was quite a life changer for me Carol – to see how Paul, in 2 Corinthians, could boast in His weaknesses so that Christ’s strength could be magnified. Though we are weak, He is strong. It sets a heart free!

  • Karen

    This book sounds like it was written for me! I need to read it!

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      I pray it blesses and encourages you in God’s uncondontional love for you Karen.

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  • What a beautiful post! I’ve never parented a child, but I can only imagine it to be an area with lots of opportunity for Satan to make you feel like a failure. So thankful that, in Christ, we do have all we need for this life.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      You said that so well Leah. I do think parenting, like so many other areas in life, is a playground for the enemy to plant seeds of shame and guilt in mama hearts. It’s why we need to preach grace to each other daily and remind each other of God’s wholehearted love for us in Christ. All is grace!

  • Michele

    My kids are getting older – definitely past the littles stage – but this still sounds like a book that I want to read!

  • Teresa

    I was thinking a lot about grace this week too. I enjoyed your post.

    • Jeannie Cunnion

      Thanks Teresa. I’m happy to know you enjoyed it. Bless you!

  • I’m a grandparent, but after reading this post I’d love to read this book, and then pass it on to my daughters.

  • Megan Willome

    “I just can’t try this hard anymore.”–Oh, I so get that. And yet, for their sake, sometimes you need to keep trying that hard.

  • Thank you so much for hosting! <3

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@jenfulwiler You model this well, Jennifer. Loving Jesus and serving him boldly with your gifts.