If I parent perfectly, then my perfect children who started this life as perfect newborns will continue to be perfect, right? Their ability to be perfect people in this world must hinge solely on my ability to parent – perfectly.
There is so much parenting advice out there, pouring on us from every which way.
Well-intentioned family members, social media resources, school informational pamphlets. There is this underlying message that if we try hard enough, we can learn how to parent perfectly. We can raise the kindest, smartest, most well rounded, self-sufficient, free-thinking babies who love the world, excel in problem-solving peacefully, are completely happy with themselves, and love everyone around them without abandon.
I want that.
I want that for all of my children, and I try hard to do my very best at helping them discover who they are while gently showing them how to be good, decent, caring people.
I want that so badly that lately, I have been feeling 10 feet underwater, feeling absolutely like I am failing because we have had tantrums, raised voices, bald-faced lies, complete lack of consideration for others, and general chaos in my house. This must all be because I am not trying hard enough. If I were a better, more tuned in, more patient parent, we wouldn’t have a single one of these problems. I am failing them as a mother.
But… it’s not that.
It’s because they are little human beings. I mean, obviously, right? However, I think sometimes we forget that. It is equally true for us parents. We forget that no matter how perfectly we parent, no matter how much modeling of the behavior we want or how many times we practice kindness and consideration, they are going to get it wrong sometimes. I am going to get it wrong sometimes.
As I sat in the nursery the other night and watched my 14-month-old twin daughters push each other out of the way to get the coveted toy of the moment (a pack of diapers) I thought, “Uh oh, already sibling rivalry.” Maybe if I mother these girls better than I evidently did their older siblings, they won’t have any of these disputes by the time they’re 6. But that couldn’t possibly be true, could it? They are not perfect, but they are perfectly human.
There is absolutely no way to be a perfect parent.
None of us can be. We can, and should, do the best that we can, but we can’t do more than that. And here is the bottom line – even if we could, even if we make not one single mistake in all of the years we spend with our children as children and into adulthood, they would still be people who make mistakes and are impatient sometimes and forget to always show kindness and get mad occasionally. It’s just part of being alive. So take the pressure off. I don’t expect my children to be perfect, for they are perfectly human. We need to stop expecting it of ourselves as well.