“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
~ Salvador Dali
Parents all have the same goal: to bring our kids up to be healthy, happy, kind, productive members of society that know their own worth and value. But if we’re honest, most of us to some degree feel like parenting failures.
Maybe sometimes we lose our cool and yell. Maybe we can’t afford to give our kids what other kids have. Or maybe we don’t really listen when our kid tells us (for the umpteenth time) how funny it was when a classmate made chocolate milk come out of his nose.
And then at the end of the day we are hard on ourselves for screwing up and wonder why we can’t do better, be better parents. But it is this desire to be perfect parents, this belief in the myth of perfect parenting, that prevents us from fully enjoying the experience of parenting our children in the first place.
Parents are human beings, and in case you didn’t get the text, human beings are Flawed with a capital F. Not only is perfect parenting unattainable, but striving for perfection also sends a pretty awful message to our kids: If I’m trying to be perfect, then you had better be perfect. This whole family must be perfect or at least convince others that we are.
If you want to be the best parent you can be, one who is present and enjoys their time with their kids, then focus on being a mindful parent.
What is a Mindful Parent?
A mindful parent does the best he or she can and focuses on offering love, encouragement, support and guidance to their children. Not making sure their child’s every wish, whim and hope is fulfilled, and in a timely manner.
Being a mindful parent also means recognizing that there is value in allowing their kids to experience frustration and disappointment. Life will throw you plenty of each and kids have got to learn how to deal.
At the end of the day, being a mindful parent means forgiving yourself for any faults, shortcomings and mistakes you may have made. Know your true responsibility is to provide your children with a loving and safe environment in which to explore, wonder, and develop their true identity and character.
Releasing guilt and coming to terms with your own imperfections won’t necessarily be easy, but committing to the process will lead to kinder, gentler moments with your children.
Love Yourself as You Do Your Child
When your kid makes a mistake, do you love them less? When they don’t win first place, do you find them despicable? When they’re in a grumpy mood and don’t act as sweet as you’d like, do you hate them for it?
Though we may often not be thrilled with our children’s behavior, and though some days we may want to walk away and toward the nearest Happy Hour, we never, ever stop loving our children – despite their shortcomings.
Start seeing yourself as you see your own child: a beautiful, wondrous, awesomely flawed individual who is deserving of endless love.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Parents
I’m not suggesting perfect parenting exists for everyone BUT you, I’m suggesting it doesn’t exist – period. Though your Facebook friends, neighbours, and parents at the soccer games may seem like they’ve got it ALL together – they are as human and imperfect as you. Stop comparing yourself to other parents and start paying more attention to how you can build a stronger relationship with your kids.
Recognize Your Old Wounds
None of us gets out of childhood without accumulating some battle scars. It’s just the nature of the beast. Just as you’re doing the best you can, your own parents did the best they could. But you may still have some old hurts that you’ve been carrying around.
We often feel we are “over” things from our past. That is until we have our own children. Then suddenly we find ourselves reliving our childhoods through their experiences, and up come the wounds we pushed down long ago.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings now. Dealing with any past trauma, be it big or small, won’t be comfortable, but it will help you to heal once and for all. If you feel it would be helpful to speak with someone – consider finding a therapist or counselor in your local area.
To really show up for your kids and to become the most authentic parent, you must recognize that no love is perfect. By forgiving yourself for your imperfections and letting go of judgement you can begin to live in the moment. Only then will you fully enjoy the experience of parenting your children.