June 22, 2018

The Myth of Perfect Parenting

As a parent, you want to make sure that everything you do is the absolute best thing for your child. But, it’s not always easy to make the right decision 100 percent of the time. Really! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve messed up parenting since my three littles came along, I just might be a wealthy woman. But if I’ve learned one thing along the way, it’s that there is absolutely no way to be a perfect parent. A loving, caring parent is all the perfect you need and here’s why.

Comparison is a Thief

Living in the days of social media can be fun and help you stay connected to those you love while giving you a glimpse at fun home décor, places to travel to and clothes to love. But if you’re not careful, it can also be a dark place that causes you to compare your life to others. Whether you are trying to emulate the fierceness of Beyonce or just keep you house as clean as your favorite mom blogger, focusing on the Joneses can keep you from enjoying, experiencing and being grateful for your own life. This dilemma is absolutely present in parenting. You might find yourself saying things like “So and so looked so put together at the Parent/Teacher night” or “So and so taught their child how to ride a bike already.” The first thing to remember is that social media is a perfect glimpse at an otherwise imperfect life. You can’t judge a book by the snapshots on it’s Instagram. If you’re feeling that you are not measuring up or missing out on appreciating the very short time that you’ll be parenting, get off the interwebs and realize just how perfect your life really is in all it’s messy, unphotogenic glory.

Everyone has Good and Bad Moments 

Your babies are human and that means they’re not going to be perfect little robots each day. There are going to be times when they talk at school when they aren’t supposed to or when they accidentally scream in the library or when they drop a glass bottle at the grocery store. Then there will be times when they get the gold star, say a perfect poem in front of the school or win the science fair. These good times will be the exact moments when you realize just how perfectly you are parenting.

Children Develop at Different Rates

 As the mama of three preemies, I constantly find myself measuring my children’s developmental milestones. Sometimes I was sure they wouldn’t ever walk or talk, only to be surprised by just how smart, wonderful and talented they each ended up being. Little kids all develop differently and at their own little pace, so there’s no need to compare them to others or to their siblings. Each little one will reach their milestones when they’re ready. They’ll even master that violin on their own schedule and find out just where life is leading them in the career field if you just stand back and give them a little love and a little trust.

Get Your Own Life

Perfect parenting doesn’t mean that you need to hover over your child’s every move. In fact, it’s much healthier if you keep hobbies and your own relationships strong despite raising your children. Try to keep in mind that your babies are little people that you are trying to raise up well enough to one day leave the nest. You need to give them all the skills that it will take for them to one day live independently. It’s not healthy to control their every wish or try to get them to remain in the nest. They need to be able to fly on their own and make their own choices one day. Doing so will help ease the pain that you will undoubtedly feel when they branch out on their own.  Perfect parenting is preparing your child for the future.

Be Flexible

Some parents that appear to be perfect are simply very flexible instead. They don’t overreact or freak out when a bump in the road (or a messy diaper during an important event) comes, therefore they may look like they have it all together. I assure you, they aren’t perfect. They have just realized that it’s much easier to ebb and flow with the parenting situations than to try to control the outcome. Be as prepared as possible but then let it go if all doesn’t go according to plan. Every parent has been there and they understand.

Set Goals but Be Understanding

It’s important to set goals for your children but don’t freak out if they make a mistake or they aren’t perfect on every test or at every sport. Everyone is amazing at something and it could just take your little one longer to figure out what that thing is. It’s important to be understanding and positive when goals are missed or don’t get reached exactly the way you imagined. Letting your child understand that goals are important for moving us all forward but that they way we reach them can be different for everyone. Being unique is the new perfect.

So, the next time your little one is throwing a toddler-sized tantrum right in the middle of your favorite store, rest assured that no one is perfect and no one cares if you’re perfect either. Repeat this mantra: There is no such thing as perfect parenting! Parenting is one big, wild ride and we are all just trying to hang on for dear life. If you rest in the fact that you have created a beautiful little being and if you give that little human the love, support and nurture that they need to grow, then you are doing the absolute most perfect job at parenting! Awesome job!

About the Author:

Tracy E. Brown is a journalist and educator with over 14 years of experience working in the field of Child Development. She is currently the Assistant Editor of Black Dress/Red Wagon Magazine in Atlanta, Ga. and previous Associate Editor at Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. She previously taught preschool at the Goddard School in Farragut, Tennessee and taught Kindergarten for Dekalb County Schools in Atlanta. Other writing credits include the Green Building Research Institute, London’s facetheory.com, WBIR Channel 10 News, PBS, Duke University and American Airlines. She is also a mom to three adorable little ones.