If you’re a parent, you know the feeling. The queasy ripple of unease when you lay down the law for your child, or set up some new boundaries, or punish him for something he did.
You’re telling yourself you’re doing the right thing. You’re telling yourself that you’re being smart, raising him to be a mature adult, teaching him how the world works. But underneath it all, the question lingers: “Am I completely botching this whole parenting thing?”
We worry about this because we love our children and we want them to have happy, successful lives. But maybe even deeper, we worry about this because we know the damage that can come from parents who mean well, but blow it. We don’t want to be those kind of parents. We want to be the good kind—the kind that raise great kids.
In essence, we feel the pressure to be perfect. Perfect parents. Perfect role models. Perfect founts of wisdom.
The only problem is that when perfection is the goal, we’re not just setting ourselves up for failure—we’re setting our kids up for disillusionment and a lifetime of disconnection.
There are a few misconceptions at play here, but the good news is, they’re easy to get over. And once you do, you’ll not only immeasurably improve your relationship with your kids—you’ll be more connected to your own self too!
1. CONNECTION IS BETTER THAN PERFECTION.
I have seen countless parents who are afraid to let their children know about their past mistakes or current problems. They feel if their kids saw them as they really are, they would lose the respect necessary to maintain a parent/child relationship.
Parenthood is a place where the pressure to be perfect is often so strong we lose sight of the fact that real is better than perfect!
Your kids don’t need you to hide behind your fig leaves, letting years go by feeling secret shame! They need you to be honest with them about your struggles, how you feel and what you need—even in relation to them and their behavior.
That is when you become a real person to your children! It’s the moment you gain REAL influence. It’s the only way to stay relevant to your kids.
Your children (not to mention everyone else in your life) really want connection with you, not perfection from you.
2. YOUR PERFECT IMAGE WILL CRUMBLE.
The voice of shame tells you,
“Absolutely not, you CANNOT be vulnerable about this or let on that you have no idea what your doing in this whole parenting thing. How could you ever look them in the eyes? They would never trust you again. I’ll lose all respect and authority.”
The problem is, sooner or later, your image is inevitably going to fall apart. No matter how much you struggle to maintain your perfect parenthood brand, your child is eventually going to see the real (and very not perfect) you. It may be when they’re 12 or 32, but they’re going to see the cracks in your armor, the tarnish on your sheen.
The choice is yours! You can either wait for that to happen—and watch them struggle with the realization that everything they thought they knew about you was a lie—or you can beat it to the punch by opening up and removing yourself from that throne willingly.
Is it hard? Sure it is. It feels like you’re destroying something important.
But in reality, being honest with your heart frees your children up to be honest about their world. They don’t have to hide it or do it alone anymore. They don’t have to be perfect kids to the perfect parent.
When you step down from the plastic throne, you become relevant in your child’s life—something I bet you’ve wanted to be for a long time!
There’s an added perk to this: The posture you take here will get passed down to your children. You recreate who you really are, not who you say you are. By trying to hide parts of you and appear perfect, you are reproducing a group of people who are not OK with who they really are—who will try to hide parts of them and live under the pressure of perfection.
3. THE PLACES YOU TRY TO HIDE ARE THE PLACES OF THE MOST POTENTIAL CONNECTION.
When you feel shame around something—be it your past or a mistake you just made in parenting—and choose to hide it, your kids end up feeling shame, as well.
They’re inevitably going to mess up and not measure up and when that time comes, they either have the choice to be honest and let others in or they can do what they’ve watched you do—hide it. When they think you won’t understand or relate to their struggles (because you haven’t been honest with them), they are going to hide. And they will hide alone—separate and disconnected.
There is a good chance you have bought into the lie you are protecting your kids by hiding parts of your past or current struggles. The only thing you are really protecting them from is feeling connected and understood and free in relationship with you. In the end, by not being vulnerable and honest with your kids, you are communicating that they must perform perfectly to be loved.
What are the things you believe you must hide? Where are you afraid of being seen by your kids?
Really feel the places you are most afraid of being seen. These are the exact places you could feel the greatest amount of connection!
Let me say that again.
The places you hide the most are the places your deepest connection will come from.
You may even consider yourself a person with high integrity—but when you are afraid of being exposed, you become a fraud. Emotional dishonesty is lying too!
Choosing not to hide anymore and being vulnerable with all of of ourselves is when we have the opportunity to feel the most accepted and connected to. That is when your life begins to feel the way you have always wanted: when you are connected to yourself and your kids.
Who you are at your core needs to come out! The world needs people who are courageous enough to put down the appearance of perfection for real. Your children are longing for the real you!
Let it go! Let go of your need to be a perfect parent. Ignore that fear in the pit of your stomach and jump into the world of connection not in spite of your faults, but through them. You’ll never be the same.
Because it’s not about being a perfect parent. Parenting is actually about creating a safe and connected culture for your kids to become healthy people.
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