The new trend in parenting is the trend against The Perfect Parent.
Moms, dads, psychologists (but mostly moms) all talk about the downfalls of trying to be perfect: the stress, the pressure we put on ourselves to provide our kids with the perfect childhoods, with only the perfect resources and experiences. Most especially they talk about the guilt we all feel when we fail to meet the “ideal.”
But what disappoints me is how many parents use the anti-perfection message as an excuse to not be better parents. They know they’re only human, and can’t achieve perfection so they stay put where they are – right smack dab in the middle of yelling, impatience, knee-jerk reactions, disengaging and generally not enjoying the time they spend parenting.
They know they can’t be perfect, but they don’t even try to be the parents their kids needs them to be.
It Might Just Come Down to Focus
The primary difference I see between trying to be a perfect parent and striving to be a damn good parent is where your focus is.
Perfect parents are worried about social standards. They’re wondering what the neighbors think. They’re worried about someday-results. And their comparing their kids to the kids next door.
Perfect parenting is focused on an image.
But damn good parents are focusing on their kids.
They aren’t thinking about social standards, except to question them. In fact, they are probably questioning every single idea they were taught to take for granted on parenting and children and filtering every piece of advice through the desire to help their child flourish in their own way.
They probably worry about what the neighbors think and what “someday” will look like too – but they’re willing to push themselves outside their comfort zone and consistently choose to honor their family’s needs over the limited perspectives or judgments of others or the niggling fears of their own. And damn good parents know that comparisons are poison, whether it’s comparison of the neighbor’s kid or comparisons between their own children.
Damn good parents also know they’ll make mistakes, and they forgive themselves – and ask for forgiveness from their kids too.
They don’t let those mistakes stop them though.
While “perfect parents” are focusing on what’s wrong, what shouldn’t be done and what spells failure, damn good parenting focuses on…and amplifies…and deeply revels in, celebrates and ENJOYS what is wonderful, what CAN be done and what spells greater and greater success in their relationships.
You can’t be a perfect parent – we all know that.
But please don’t let your imperfections stop you from learning to be a damn good one.