Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

Are You a Perfectionist? That's Too Low a Standard.

"Perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis." ― Brené Brown

Most of us judge ourselves harshly. We're so far from perfect.  We overslept, ate that cake, forgot to return a phone call, snapped at our partner, yelled at our kid, didn't feed him a hot breakfast, hustled him out the door so fast he forgot his homework.  And while we're judging ourselves, how's the kid turning out?  Not so perfect either? Nothing makes us more anxious than whether our children are turning out okay.

But perfection is too low a standard. Why not use love as your yardstick?  Can you create more love in the world today?  Can you forgive yourself for all those inevitable human missteps -- and just keep turning yourself around so you're on the right track again?  Can you remind yourself that your child isn't perfect because he or she is human, and an immature, still developing human at that?

What kids need from us is the space to be imperfect, to be loved and accepted exactly as they are.  That's the only place any of us can start from to grow.

So can you adore your child exactly as he is today?  Sure, you want to guide him, that's your job: "Here's how we wait our turn at the slide...Here's how you work out with your sister how to share the toy...We brush our teeth every night..."  But offering that guidance with humor and understanding is very different than guiding from fear ("Is there something wrong with him?"). Fear shades so quickly into criticism and gives your child the message that somehow he just isn't quite good enough.

Instead, can you guide today with faith that your child is blossoming and growing all the time, becoming her best self?  What she needs from you, more than teaching, is the emotional nutrients to thrive:  unconditional love, joy in who she is, faith in the friendliness of the universe and in her own goodness and ability to grow.

So today, use the challenges of life to create love where there wasn't any before.  Let go of fear and perfectionism. Choose love. Embrace your imperfect self with compassion.  Meet your child heart to heart, delighting in who he is, imperfections and all.  Focus on all the things you love about him. Chalk the "imperfections" (yours and your child's) up to learning experiences, and use them to get back on track.  



And start aiming higher than perfection. Aim for unconditional love.     


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