I’m starting a new club called The Imperfect Parents Society, or TIPS for short.
One of the weaknesses many parents bring to the adventure of parenting is the fantasy of perfectionism. Parents—mothers, more often—have a dream that they will be perfect and that their children will respond to their ideal parenting by being wholly obedient, respectful, sensitive, hard-working, and considerate. When their children’s behavior falls short, they presume one of two things: either there is something desperately wrong with their child or they have not quite learned the magic of “perfect parenting” and they must seek out the Holy Secret of Parenting Bliss. They come to me for this.
As is my wont, I shock them with…well, the truth. It’s kinda fun, to be honest. Time after time, I assuage parents’ guilt and concern by informing them that both they and their child are perfectly normal—that obnoxious, ridiculous behavior is a normal function of childhood.
I usually start with the following presuppositions:
- All parents are imperfect, usually in a few important ways and always in several minor ways.
- Parenting imperfections do affect children—sometimes seriously, sometimes negatively—almost always inadvertently.
- Children are quite resilient to parental imperfections, as long as love, concern, and discipline are the rule, rather than the exception.
- Parents who are aware of their imperfections and can accept themselves as imperfect parents are poised to minimize the damage that is done to their children.
If I can convince a parent of these things, then I can pretty much guarantee success for the family. I can help the parent separate what is normal childhood ridiculousness and what is truly pathological. Most of the time, however, the latter category has nothing in it, because the vast majority of children are normal—and so are the parents.
So, if you are a parent, you are imperfect. If you recognize it, you’re welcome in the club. It’s a big club.
Join me on The Imperfect Parents Society (TIPS) on Facebook!