Why does the family across the street have all together? They have a well kept home, nice cars (Always clean), great kids (Also, always clean). They are a great family and they appear to have it all together. I can tell you from experience this could all be true. Yes, they are a great family and yes, they appear to have it all together.
If you were to walk into our home you may get the feeling like we may have it all together. The reason why you may feel that way is because you have not walked upstairs. You are only seeing part of the way we live. We try to keep the downstairs “picked-up.” If you were to walk upstairs you may have a different “feeling” about our appearance. The point I am trying to make is appearances are rarely reality. Stop trying to be perfect because you think your neighbors are…they aren’t. You do not need to raise “perfect kids.” It's an illusion you can not possibly achieve.
Here's the good news, you don’t have to be a perfect parent! And, if you think you border on perfectionistic parenting lets see what that may look like.
What Is A Perfectionist?
According to dictionary.com a perfectionist is, “a person who demands perfection of himself, herself, or others.” I would would actually amend that definition to say, “a person who demands perfection of himself, herself AND others.” Perfectionism doesn’t just effect the perfectionist, it effects everyone around them, including your kids.
Why It’s Hurting Our Kids
The reason perfectionistic parenting hurts our kids is they feel like they can never measure up. They can never get 100%, they can never get the “A+” and as a result they learn to be discontent with an “A” when there is the elusive “+” out there on the horizon.
Our kids grow up thinking perfectionism is working in their favor or it’s something to strive for, neither is correct. If you want to know what perfectionism can do for you and your kids here are a few reminders.
What Perfectionism Can Do For You And Your Kids
1. Perfectionism reminds me I can never rest.
2. Perfectionism reminds me to rely on myself, not others.
3. Perfectionism reminds me that I can never “measure up."
4. Perfectionism reminds me there is no such thing as peace.
5. Perfectionism reminds me I am and will always be a failure.
6. Perfectionism reminds me to live in a perpetual state of worry.
7. Perfectionism reminds me I am and never will be good enough.
8. Perfectionism reminds me to correct others who are not perfect.
9. Perfectionism reminds me to stay frustrated because I can never get it right.
10. Perfectionism reminds me that others will always let me down because they never get it right.
Parents, take another look at number 10. Perfectionistic parents can create an atmosphere that makes their children feel they can never do it right. They may feel like they can never measure up and they can never please their mom or dad. This may drive them to always “do better/try harder” or “give up” because they feel like they can never be perfect.
Clean Your Room!
Maybe, then next time the clothes fall short of the hamper, you say, “Well, that’s good enough.” Now, once you recover from the pain you felt at that last statement maybe you will be open to the possibility of taking the perspective of the well know theological rock group .38 Special in their song If I’d Been The One,
“Can you read my mind,
Take a good look at my face.
Could you take the time,
Just to stand here in my place.”
Maybe you could take a few moments to look at your child’s face the next time they feel like they don’t measure up. Take the time to stand in their place and understand what they may be feeling and why.
How Perfectionism Traps Parents
Perfectionism will trap each of us as parents into When/Then thinking. We may say to ourselves, “WHEN my kids start cleaning their room the way I want them to clean their room THEN I will be happy.” If that were true most parents would never be happy. Someone once said that, “A perfectionist is a person who takes great pains and passes them on to others.”
Think Progress Not Perfection
Here is a reminder from Martha to us. Remember, she was, “worried and upset over all these details!” When Jesus reminds her, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NLT. What was that “one thing” Mary had? I believe it was contentment.
Martha most likely struggled with perfectionism. While she was getting the dinner prepared she wanted everything to be just right! She wanted everything to be perfect. Martha was setting a standard of perfection she could not reach and Jesus noticed it.
Don’t sweat the details of making sure your kids always do everything perfectly. Sit down and enjoy the presence of your kids. Enjoy the fingerprints on the refrigerator and on the glass door and windows. Enjoy the spilled milk and clothes by the hamper. Enjoy the toothpaste squeezed from the middle of the tube and all over the sink.
There will come a time when you are all alone and your children are all grown up. It’s at that moment when you will wish for dirty fingerprints, messy bathrooms and empty hampers.