How to be the perfect parent: Let go of any notion of being perfect.Categories: babies, parenting, postpartum
March 19, 2016
In those first few years of parenting, I focused my energy on being the best parent that I could be. I set high expectations for myself and for others. I worked hard to create a safe and engaging environment that would help my kids to flourish. I provided social opportunities and activities to enhance their experiences. I read Dr. Sears and Dr. Brazelton. I learned about attachment parenting and the Ferber method. I closely observed other parents who seemed to have things figured out. I was determined to raise my kids the right way.
As you might imagine, this was a recipe for disaster in many ways. I couldn’t live up to my own expectations and neither could anyone else, my kids included. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect parent. I was also working, so I felt pressure to live up to expectations there, too. And every time I didn’t meet my own expectations, it felt like another failure. Cue those nasty gremlin voices.
I can tell you - perfectionist tendencies and critical inner voices go hand in hand. Reining one in requires also working on reining in the other.
It took a lot of personal work: sifting through uncomfortable emotions, getting curious about what significant meaning I had attached to failure, exploring what it meant to be “good enough,” learning non-attachment (still learning!) and simple perseverance.
It also required developing some tools to help me deepen in relationship with myself. I began a mindfulness practice to help me connect to the power of presence. I started writing, as a way to get things out of my head where they tended to get caught in a repetitive loop. I created an altar to honor my most authentic self. I started a practice of “saying my gratefuls,” which my mother-in-law taught me. She was one of the most joyful people I have ever known.
Of course, I didn’t start all of this at once. It’s been a gradual process of following my intuition. These practices have emerged without much effort and without any stress or expectation. I have learned to trust the process and even when I feel like I’m falling in to old patterns, I try to just notice and not judge.
The beauty of it is that the more grounded and centered I feel, the less easily I’m knocked off-kilter by critical voices (my own or someone else’s) and the greater my ability to say “no” to unrealistic expectations. I hold on to healthy boundaries and I become my own best ally.
I can almost see myself in Wonder Woman pose. Feet apart, hands on hips, chest open and shoulders back. I’m taking no shit, folks.
Yes, it’s empowering. Who doesn’t want to have a kick-ass superhero with a lasso of truth living inside of her?
And I’m sure you have one, too - a powerful self who knows what will serve you best and what needs to go. You might have a lasso of truth, too, that reins in those gremlin voices. Or maybe x-ray vision is more your thing – seeing to the heart of things, to what really matters.
What if you could call on that version of yourself in moments of weakness or despair, when those gremlin voices come calling or when one more thing feels like one more thing too much?
I think you can. If it feels hokey – go hang out with some young associates at the playground or in the backyard. They probably know a thing or two about superheroes. They might even have a cape ready and waiting for you.
Who is the superhero that lives inside of you? And what does she want you to know?
Join us next Wednesday, March 23rd at 6:30pm as we experience the final installment of our Nurturing Parents, Nourishing Lives workshop series with Your Life in Balance. In this experiential workshop we will examine the ways we put pressure on ourselves to achieve, succeed and perfect. We will explore the importance of coming back to center, of embracing 'good enough' and making choices aligned with our values.
We can do so much more for our kids when we do a few things for ourselves - so come out and join us!
Pre-registration is required. REGISTER NOW