It’s true. Quite paradoxically, a perfect parent would be a flawed parent so the proposition of a perfect parent is impossible.
Of course we all try to be a better parent. We read more of the right stuff, ask friends whose parenting we respect for advice and try to practice being more patient and present.
Guilt is the curse of motherhood and it’s something we can all relate to. Often we only reprimand our child in public because we feel guilty that they’ve done something to upset another person or we feel judged and expected to step in.
I’ve noticed, since having a group of mum friends I feel comfortable with, that I rarely intervene now and it’s amazing how easily the children resolve their own problems. There are less incidents too – probably because they are more at ease without us hovering anxiously.
Over generations parenting has become more respectful and more informed, resulting in happier, better connected families and healthier children. But each generation did what they felt was best at the time and that is what parents the world over will continue to do – because we all love our children more than anything in the world.
I have personal issues around perfectionism and I’m only now learning that perfection is an inhuman concept. Humans are all very different, we are born with unique genes and all grow up with our own set of experiences. Us at different time points are distinct too – 20 year old me and nearly 40 year old me have a very different outlook on many things and depending what time of the day or month you ask me I may have a different view too.
So if our perception of ‘perfect’ is unique to us then we must accept that our goal is to attain a singular definition of perfect at that single point in time. To others your idea of perfect could be very imperfect.
Chasing the unattainable goal of perfection is not only unhealthy for us but also our children. If your idea of perfection is never to shout at your children, never to cry in front of them, never to bribe or threaten then how can you ever teach them what these actions mean and how to make amends from them.
We all remember being sent to our rooms to ‘think about what we did’ or just given a blanket response of ‘because I said so’ and also of seeing our parents do things we weren’t allowed to do – one rule for them and one for us. I don’t remember ever sitting in my room thinking about what I did wrong, only that I was misunderstood, unheard and disrespected. And then the shame, anger, resentment and low self-esteem came.
I was never given an apology for their bad behaviour but was always expected to apologise for mine – a child whose brain was still developing. Nowadays I think, and hope, that this kind of parenting is dying out. Most parents I know model healthy behaviour and aren’t afraid to apologise when they make a mistake. As our knowledge of emotions increases we now know that this is how children learn. THIS is where their moral compass comes from.
Mistakes are healthy, they’re normal and they help us learn. So if there is such a thing as perfect, it’s being imperfect, mistakes and all.
It’s hard not to get swept up when you read parenting books and blogs, listen to audiobooks and podcasts and watch youtube videos and worry you have to aspire to all of these parenting principles otherwise you’re failing. But every blog article writer or vlogger will tell you that they struggle too, they find parenting beyond their capabilities on a daily basis. This is why they write, because they have their fair share of struggles and so read and aspire to be a better version of themselves and a better parent.
They probably devoured the parenting books when they were a new parent and after coming out the other side and feeling a more confident parent, they want to share the best bits of what they’ve learnt. They definitely don’t judge you or expect you to blindly follow them. They have also come to the realisation that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.
They feel guilt and fear and question their methods. But it’s the questioning and educating that get them delving into theories and once you ‘get it’ and you see it work like magic with your child, you just want to share.
We should never stop learning or being self aware but we can give ourselves a break. No matter how imperfect we are, to our children – we are perfect. And isn’t that what really matters?