Modeling Imperfection

March 22, 2013

As a parent, I believe that I am not alone when I aspire to be the best I can be for my children. I know I am not alone in this due to the countless times I have heard mothers and fathers berate themselves when they fell short of their own parenting ideal. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper”, “I’m a bad mom…there won’t be a birthday party again this year”, or “Why did I give in again?” are just some of the things I have heard.

While it is important to grow as a person, my intense pursuit of never being angry, always be in a good mood, keep everything flowing well for everyone, and be proud of everything you say and do with them was unrealistic. And yet, every part of that felt so important to the health and growth of my daughters.

Early in my parenting career, a curious idea was introduced to me by my homeopath. I had been struggling with migraines, which it turned out were partially due to an over achievement complex I was having…go figure! She suggested the outrageous idea that I relax, accept myself as I was, and model imperfection for my children.

My heart froze and my pulse raced….WHAT?? Like a deer in headlights, the mere idea of lowering the bar an inch was producing high anxiety. It would take time and consideration before my mind softened to this novel concept and began to see merit in this new approach, for my children and myself.

What if … I saw myself with the same love and compassion I had for my children?

What if…  I opened to loving myself ‘as is’ just as I wanted my daughters to love themselves?

What if …I could model for them that we all fall short, make mistakes, say things we regret and it’s okay?

Motivated to put an end to this cycle of perfectionism, I began to change. This took time, attention to my thoughts, and self-encouragement.  It became apparent that if I somehow did succeed in being ‘perfect’ (lol…as if!) I would be setting a ridiculous standard for my girls. Modeling authenticity, humility, and humanity were better qualities to offer them.

Over time, this felt much better to me. It brought warmth and realness to our relationship over the years. As a result of admitting when I wrong, having parenting moment “re-do’s”, and letting things be, trust grew between us. It had never occurred to me that we actually trust someone more knowing they are real and honest rather than seeking perfection and covering up their shortfalls.

If this speaks to you, I encourage you to be real with your children this week. Let something go, admit a mistake, re-do a parenting moment, and see the difference it makes!

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