The Burden of Perfect Parenting

Below is some helpful advice from one of my favorite authors, Chad Bird. I think it’s timely as we begin a new year of home schooling. He writes,

One of the best gifts we can give our children is to stop trying to be perfect parents.

Don’t set out to be a hero to your children.

Throw away your capes.

Embrace your failure to be a super-mom, a super-dad, and other people who don’t exist.

You’ll not only be doing your children a favor. You’ll being doing all of us a favor, including yourself.

Earlier this year, Bunmi Laditan wrote about “How to Be a Mom in 2017.” She said, “Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, and social needs are met while being careful not to over stimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen free, processed foods free, plastic free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-storey, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil.”

Then she added:

“How to be a mom in literally every generation before ours: feed them sometimes.”

The post went viral. And with good reason.

We don’t need more helicopter parents micromanaging the lives of their children. We don’t need more moms making it their life’s mission to make sure their kids have the very best of everything. We don’t need dads bending over backwards to provide an affluent, idyllic life for their children.

We need them embracing and rejoicing in mediocrity.

Because that’s how life works. And it’s the mediocre, average, imperfect things in life that make all the difference.

Perfectionism, in parenting and other areas of life, is a seductive ideology. It’s what Brené Brown calls, “The belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield we lug around thinking that it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the only thing that’s preventing us from taking flight.”

Perfectionism in parenting is all about control. But control is just a mask. Beneath that mask is one of the oldest, ugliest faces around: fear.

We fear that if we’re not perfect parents, we’ll mess our children up (don’t worry, we will). We fear that if we don’t control every aspect of our children’s lives, they might get into trouble (they will anyway). We fear that if we don’t hover over them, impress them, do heroic things for them, they’ll not have the same advantages as other kids (so what?).

If there’s anything we should fear, it’s that we’re teaching our children that only the extraordinary matters. That winning first place is what life is all about. That getting into the top school is of the ultimate importance. That standing above the crowd is how we make ourselves worthy. If we fear anything, let’s fear putting those vain, self-serving thoughts into our children’s heads.

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Thank you, Chad!

Curt Bumcrot, MRE

Chad has a new book coming out, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, in October, 2017. You can read about it here.

Also, it’s not too late to sign up for classes here at Basic Skills! But you’ll have to act fast – school starts next week. Click here to find out more about this year’s course offerings.

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