Perfection is not the Goal

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I have to share an observation that is going to shock a lot of you.  Neither parents nor children are perfect.  This shocking observation may be common knowledge, but it is a fact that gets lost too often.  Children make mistakes and parents make mistakes, it is a fact of life.

Perfection is not Achievable

We can all start out with a deep breath.  Whether parents or children make a mistake it is not the end of the world.  Do not treat it as such.  In particular, do not treat it as such with your children.  We learn from our mistakes so an environment that does not allow mistakes is not going to be educational.  Perfection is a goal to aim for, but accept that it will not be achieved.

It is all about Pressure

Set goals and emphasize them with the correct amount of pressure.  The correct amount of pressure is the amount it takes to push you or your children to excel without causing them to wither when the goal is not achieved.  This means the correct amount of pressure varies for each individual.  It also varies based on the gifts a parent or child has.

For example, I have a child that is gifted academically.  Thus, academically I push for straight A’s on report cards.  I push for every test score to be a 100.  He knows that is what I want from him.  I know he will have bad days and tough subjects so a B or lower will usually result in a discussion about problem areas or how to get better.  Falling short of perfection is ok, we just look for ways to do better the next time.  We learn from our mistakes.

Parents Make Mistakes Too

As a parent, we can beat ourselves up over every decision.  We let our children watch too much TV or did not pay enough attention to their grades.  There are hundreds of decisions we make each week that impact our children and the odds are that some of our decisions will be bad.  For those of us with multiple children, we can learn from mistakes we made with the older kids.  However, we still have to raise those older children and find ways to adjust for our mistakes as we go.

My oldest child is a great example of this.  I was too easy on him for a few years because I felt I had been too hard on him when he was younger.  We put a lot of responsibility on him at a young age and when I was able to reduce expectations I did.  When the expectations for him were lowered he ended up too soft.  His focus drifted for a few years and when he should have been growing in responsibilities he did not.  I adjusted my approach because I had made some mistakes.  Eventually, I made enough adjustments to raise him into a decent young man.

Mistakes are not the same as Failure

A great thing about parenting (and a bad thing as well) is that we are never done.  My parents still try to parent even as I am nearing a point of being a grandparent myself.  We make mistakes, but we have a lifetime available to correct our mistakes.  A child is never a failure, some just allow us more opportunity to be a parent.  Thus, parents are not a failure until they stop parenting.  It can be hard to move on after we see the impact of a big mistake.  We can find all sorts of reasons to blame ourselves for the troubles our children face, but in the end, we should strive to do our best.  Accept that we will make mistakes.  We make mistakes.  We need to take them in stride.   and find ways to make things right.

Perfection is a journey, not a goal.  When we allow for mistakes it will not only reduce stress, it will also teach our children how to live with mistakes.  We should learn from our mistakes and move on rather than allow them to drag us, and our children, down.

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