Our children don’t need perfection.
There is this huge movement lately for better parenting. Attachment, natural, gentle, connected – call it what you will. It all offers real benefits to parents and caregivers. The concepts of non violence and treating your child like a human being are spot on. I love the ideas behind gentle parenting. A big advocate for treating our children well, loving them with every fiber of our being.
However, I feel as if in many ways we, as parents, have taken these wonderful concepts of “A person’s a person no matter how small” to “Little Susie should be able to do whatever she wants because we don’t want her to feel bad. Ever.”
It’s getting to the point where we can’t even be authority figures, because someone might get their feelings hurt. Or judge us. Or act like they’ve never lost their temper with their kids. So we have to be “on” all the time. No mistakes. No slip ups. And that’s not what AP/gentle parenting is about.
Perfection parenting is wrong. It does way more harm than good to your child. It’s not striving to be better, it’s hiding the realness of our lives. This type of parenting means that we often feel so much shame and guilt when something goes wrong that we pretend it never happened. To outsiders, to our children. We can’t admit we failed because we are so busy trying to uphold some crazy standard that was only meant to help us become better – not perfect.
I fail at parenting every.single.day. There has never been a day I haven’t made some kind of mistake, big or small. At times it becomes hard for me to admit things on here because I know there will be that one commentor who judges me, while tooting her own “We just don’t act that way here” horn. I know it could be easily rubbed in my face later on.
But I’ve tried to live in the “Every day is perfect here” mode and all it did was make me unhappy and guilt ridden when I made a mistake.
Our children need to be disappointed. They need to see us lose it sometimes. They need to feel like there are unfair rules. They need to see us make mistakes. They need to see us mess up and then fix it.
Why? Why on earth would they need this?
Because that’s really the way the world works. Everyone deals with terrible bosses, tough situations, mistakes they caused, and rude people. And when children grow up in homes where everyone pretends to be perfect or can’t admit they failed, they are in for one heck of a wake up call when they leave.
I’m not saying you should freak out on your kid on some kind of a schedule, start fighting with your partner in front of them, or plan out ways you can disappoint them after nap. I’m saying that we need to let some of our guilt and ultra high parenting standards that no one can achieve for long (because we’re all human) go. We need to strive to be the best parent we can be – while creating an emotionally balanced life for our kids.
Is it right to mess up? We should just let ourselves go and scream at the kids so they get a taste of the real world? No, but mistakes are normal. And they’re going to happen. And our kids need to know how to deal with it.
If we don’t do this – how else will our children know how to apologize when they lose it? How to confront an upset boss rationally and talk to them about missing a deadline? How will they know how to handle their own failures and mistakes in life?
You are a wonderful parent, just for being you. If you tell your child you love them, play with them, are the one they run to when they cry, check on them at night, and worry about them when you go – that’s what they need. Failures and all. Someone who can look at them and say, “Mommy really messed today up, I am so sorry. Let’s do better tomorrow.”
That’s worth more than any kind of standard that won’t let us say those words.