Last week I saw a man who had not made a mistake in 4,000 years. He was a mummy in the British Museum.

H.L. Wayland

A woman recently spoke to me about attending parenting workshops. She said: "I stopped going to all these parenting workshops three years ago. Whenever I went to one of them I would get very inspired. Then I came home and tried to implement everything they had taught me, but it didn't work for me. I'd fall flat on my face and get very upset about myself. I'd feel inadequate and ineffective. All these seminars taught me was what I am not doing and I know what kind of mother I am not."

I explained to her that life is not about aiming for perfection. What we are trying to do is to take one or two things that we can improve on, and make some small changes. As the famous adage goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step in the right direction." We have to realize that we cannot jump a thousand miles in one grand leap.

We were not trained or licensed to be a mother, wife, husband, etc. The fact that we gave birth to our children does not make us a professional mother, just like owning a violin does not make us a violinist. It is consistent practice over the years that makes us a better mother and a better person as we go along.

The way to go is by setting ourselves small, achievable goals. Because these are small changes, we are more likely to achieve them. Making small positive changes in the right direction will, in return, make us feel proud — instead of feeling bad about ourselves when we fail to make those thousand-mile leaps.

When we feel better about ourselves as a parent, we will be more successful at the most important job that G‑d has entrusted to us.

Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch ("The Rebbe Rashab" — 1860-1920) used to say that "Just as a Jew is duty-bound to put on tefillin every day, it is no less crucial to devote a half an hour each day thinking about how to raise our children in the right way." If we each did that — spent a half an hour each and every day without fail thinking about how we are raising our children — we will certainly find a small, tiny change for the better that we can successfully implement. Now if we did that every day of our lives....