Imperfect Parenting Is Good Enough
Juggling schedules. Researching things. Household chores and errands. Homework time. School events. Extra-curricular activities. Parents have a lot to do – not to mention work, other family obligations, and time to hit the gym. Time to snuggle with a spouse or significant other – what’s that, you ask? Today’s parent is overwhelmed – physically and psychologically. Often, he or she is not just trying to survive when raising a child, but is striving to achieve the illusion of perfection. How is one to manage a world that seems to require more hours in a day?
Let me say just this: Imperfect parenting is good enough. In fact, it should be coveted.
You heard that right. Stop trying to be perfect. Please. We’re all doing our best. You will always be disappointed when the bar is set so high. Our generation is a huge improvement over what we experienced from our parents – and what they experienced from their parents.
Some parents are accused of not doing enough to be involved in their child’s life. Others are criticized for being helicopter parents. The truth is the standard of parenting should simply be to do you best and trust it’s good enough.
Most parents could do better if the world was perfect and provided unlimited time, resources,
and the right environment in which to parent. But the world is far from being perfect and it is unfair for society to project an unachievable standard onto another. Of course, our worst critic is ourselves. We must not burden ourselves with the expectation of seeking to be perfect parents.
However, no one is giving you a license to slack off. Doing your best still means to put your family first, to devote enough time, energy, and resources to your child, to help him or her achieve and succeed, and to make them feel safe, healthy, and loved. You just need to accept limitations and strike a balance that allows you to feel good about what you are doing.
So, what will help you feel grounded in your parenting?
Reflect on all that you have done and sacrificed for your children.
Always leave room for improvement but find satisfaction in what you do have time to do. Strive to grow, but not to seek to obtain the unattainable ideal.
Be proud of where your child is at and celebrate him or her.
Know that true perfection, if it exists, can only be obtained at a great cost for a brief moment. Kids don’t need you to burn out.
Set boundaries in what feels right for you about what you are capable of doing. Balance parenting with your work, wellness, and relationships.
Don’t try to force high-level academics onto a child before one is ready.
Avoid putting pressure on pre-schoolers; don’t force them to learn to read at a pace any faster than they’re comfortable with.
Take a time out for yourself. You need alone, quiet time – and a break from the routine, mundane, and chaotic. Go out and see friends, pursue your hobbies, and engage in the things that nurture and define who you are. Yes, be selfish about it. Your kids will appreciate it – and you will feel recharged to handle what comes your way.
Don’t feel you need to plan your four-year-old’s career path or that you need to pad your kid’s resume to get into an elite school.
What parents really need to do is to put away their list of “should” and “coulds.” They must not compare themselves to others or feel burdened to practice parenting standards dictated by others. No one knows your situation or can put themselves in your shoes. There is so much pressure to try to keep up and chasing an elusive goal.
Parents today have a lot on their plate. As the mother of three, I certainly understand parents want to raise awesome kids, shield them from life’s troubles, keep things fun and positive, and ensure they nurture a child to be independent, sociable, intelligent, kind and healthy. But there are many challenges, bumps, and surprises along the way. Trying to be a perfect parent is exhausting, self-defeating, unattainable, and weighs heavily on your self-esteem. In that case, your child is not getting your best because you don’t feel your best.
Raising children is a team effort. Lean on others to provide help where possible – a spouse, friends, family, tutors, therapists, teachers, etc. Do your best, strive to do better, accept that mistakes will be made, but above all, feel confident and rewarded in knowing that being good enough can be really great.
A.K. Spurway, certified in Positive Parenting, is a mom of three young children. She is the founder and CEO of www.Nanducket.com, an island-inspired lifestyle brand, and the best-selling author of Ack! The Nantucket Duckling. Her mission is to help the newest generation to be more self-confident by teaching them that their differences can be their superpower.