Perfection does not exist; especially in parenting.
Just this week…
- I forgot about the “Read With Me” with my 1st grader. The only thing that saved me was that I was going to the school anyway, and remembered as I was parking.
- I lost track of time and didn’t get home before my 7th grader (and I took his house key because I have temporarily misplaced mine), leaving him locked out of the house in the chilly fall weather for 15 min until I got home.
- Made my daughter skip her dance class, not because she was sick, but because I couldn’t bear to do anything more or go anywhere else that day.
Yet somewhere, somehow along the line, I have given the impression that I am a “perfect parent.” In my opinion, they don’t exist and anyone that says they do has never been a parent. When I mentioned to my children that someone might have this impression, all of them laughed. One said, “why would they say that?” Another, “that’s what they think!” And the best I got was a semi head nod and “so-so” hand gesture (from my littlest one…because at 6 I still rate).
The conversation came up in passing with another parent when we began talking about our children and school. This parent was almost apologetic when she said there are some nights that after a long day at work she simply wants to watch her show on occasion. Not do school work. When I said, I am no better, she was relieved and said I should video tape my evening as evidence. This makes me literally nauseous to hear another parent feel bad or apologize for not living up to anyone else’s standards.
Earlier this month, we hosted #ParentCamp at our school. Our keynote speaker was psychologist, Dr Adam Berman. He mentioned so many important points for parents to remember:
- It is not natural nor beneficial for anyone to be solely focused on our child’s needs
- Do not judge yourself or other parents
- We need to have empathy for ourselves as parents
- We need to learn from previous experiences
- And….there is NO perfect parent
Parenting has to be one of the most difficult jobs. There is no training beforehand and there is no right answer. Not only can what works for one household not work for another – but what works for one child may very well not work for their sibling. Add to that the fact that there are no days off. (This was one of the harshest realities I remember facing as a new parent.) We have to do what we feel is best for our family…no one else’s.
So besides being bothered that someone has held me to a standard that I can never live up to; I was concerned that this image can or will cause others to tone out the suggestions that I and others share on how families can support their children and be effective advocates. Besides helping to build relationships between home and school, sharing out information and resources is the most important role our group can play. If someone thinks that these ideas are all or nothing. Then chances are they are going to opt for the nothing when they can’t keep up with doing it all every day.
When we share information with parents, be it from a PTO or school. I think we need to preface it with the fact that no one is expected to do these things with their child every day (other than love them, feed them and provide them with shelter). That you do WHAT you can, WHEN you can. That something IS better than nothing. Yes, we have goals to strive for – but they are just that, they are goals we are striving for. We share many, many ideas…it is up to each family to choose which best suit their family and that they can manage…and that may be different each day.
So for the record…Yes I try to be the best parent I can be, and I believe I have many good moments, but I don’t manage to do everything, every day. I am not a perfect parent, never will be, AND I don’t ever expect anyone else to be.