If we all know that nobody’s perfect, why then, is there so much pressure on us to be “Perfect Parents”?
Parenting is exhausting enough, but these days, the concept of Perfect Parenting seems to pervade almost every aspect of parenting and it's added even more pressure to the role. It’s not exactly clear where it all got started, how much of it we do to ourselves or how much of it society imposes on us, but whatever it is, I think its time to dump it.
Now, I don’t mean you should go over to the dark side and bail out on your parenting role, but I’m guessing there are some places you could cut yourself a little slack and both you and your family would probably be better off for it.
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup
There’s an oversupply of parenting books out there, all written by so called “experts” so it’s easy to drive yourself crazy reading too of them and bombarding yourself with too much information. This is not to say that there isn’t some great education or information inside these books, but rather that too much of anything is rarely a good thing. So take care not to overdo it with the plethora of available materials and by consulting too many conflicting resources.
One thing that was a huge help to me while raising my kids was to choose a mentor family that I respected and admired. We were lucky because we had two families in particular whom we greatly admired and they were almost a decade ahead of us in raising their families. I called upon both sets of these parents frequently to ask for their advice and insights about various different parenting situations and they both became invaluable parenting resources for me.
Another method is to choose a parent whose child has similar temperament or personality traits as your own child and ask them how they handled different situations with their child at school or in regard to making friends. For example, if your child is an introvert, it probably won’t be much help at all to speak to a parent whose child is super extroverted, so it's important to first recognize who your child really is, and to build upon their strengths, rather than trying to impose your own ideals upon them.
Kid’s Don’t Come with Instruction Books
As crazy as it might seem, most of us become parents with very little or no education at all regarding how to raise children, so try not to beat yourself up too much if sometimes you feel like your parenting skillset is lacking. Almost every parent has experienced some parenting moments that make you feel like you want to throw in the towel. It can help to acknowledge that parenting is not without it challenges and try to give yourself credit that you’re doing the best you can, even if sometimes it might feel like your flailing in the process.
Recognize and accept that Kids Don’t Come with Instruction Books, and the world isn’t a perfect place either, so don’t expect that parenting will be a smooth ride. It helps if you can aim for consistency, but also be open to switching gears if the situation warrants its. Expect some bumps along the way, do your best and most of all, model for your kids that if you don’t have the answer, there is always a way to work out a solution if we all work together.
Time for Yourself Will Make You a Better Parent
Last, but not least, don’t forget to make time to do some things for yourself too. It’s fantastic to be a totally devoted parent, but totally abandoning all of your own needs and identity can often leave you feeling resentful and exhausted and can ultimately end up contributing in a negative way towards your parenting skills. So while it might seem impossible to find the time, work towards making a plan with your spouse, partner or maybe even another parent, where each week you trade off time with each other to allow each of you some time to do something you’re interested in.