In today’s day and age, it is unfortunately normal for parents to receive judgment on almost anything regarding how their child or children are being raised. The spectrum of criticism can range from complete strangers on social media, trolling you on what you fed your child this morning, to those close in your life such as friends, second guessing your choices and maybe even comparing their methods of parenting to yours. The spectrum can even reach as far as to your own parents, trying to take over or even overriding your authority over your own children, constantly picking at every single decision you make. It’s no wonder the pressure is on to make sure you are raising your loved one(s) as perfectly as you can. No mistakes or mishaps allowed for either you or your child in hopes that the criticism will end!
Nevertheless, this perfectionist thinking that many parents choose or were even raised by and chose to carry on the “tradition”, comes with many consequences. To yourself, the constant stress of being a perfect parent leaves you on edge, always focused on every move you make, with your attention completely on those around you watching, careful as to not make one “wrong move”, eventually burning you out; and the child, with this sort of behavior in a parent, is left with half the attention they should be receiving, half the love they should be raised with and is fully left in the dark, as Mom or Dad are too busy worrying about what someone else said about them. Either that or the complete opposite, where the parents are expecting perfection in the child’s every move, never giving them a break.
Whichever one is may be apparent in your life, both bring harm to yourself and your child, never giving a satisfied outcome to either. However, you are not alone. Many parents experience this same exact dilemma and you have already done the first step to overcoming this; recognizing it! That’s what brought you here. As you continue reading below, some steps will be included to help you further overcome this concept of perfectionism, for the sake of your child and yourself.
As mentioned before, wanting to overcome this burden of perfectionism is the first step in doing so. To further progress, knowing where you expect perfection when parenting would be the next step. Some parents expect perfection in themselves, others expect this perfection in their own children. Some may even expect both. Ultimately, neither result in positive outcomes for anyone.
Perfect Parenting in Yourself:
If you are constantly bringing yourself down or you never feel enough you may be a parent who expects perfection in themselves. You tend to believe that everything you do must be flawless or reach the standards of others, or maybe your own high standards. This leaves you never feeling fully satisfied with your decisions or efforts.
Some more signs indicating your expectation of perfection in yourself may be:
- Constant harsh criticism on yourself
- Disappointment in yourself as a result of your child’s failures
- Comparing yourself to other parents, often selling yourself short of your efforts
- Feeling like you’re not doing enough for your children, despite the fact that you already do so much for them
- Often second guessing your own parenting choices
- Setting expectations that may be too high, resulting in you losing your cool.
Perfect Parenting Regarding Your Child:
If you have high expectations of your child and often feel frustrated at even the smallest mistakes they make, you may be a parent who places your expectations of perfection in the performance of your child. This type of mindset is harmful to your child and is often confused with “wanting what’s best” for your child when really, it’s you expecting the best from them every time. This can lower your child’s self-esteem and even put a strain in forming a healthy parent-child relationship overall.
Some more signs indicating your expectations of perfection in your child may be:
- Difficulty in watching your child do something if it’s not done your way
- Micromanaging your child in almost every task
- Always pressuring your child to perform flawlessly
- More criticizing your child rather than praising them
- Forcing your child to fulfill your dreams instead of what theirs is
- Depending your self-worth on your child’s achievement
What Can Be Done?
Though it may seem difficult to first recognize these qualities in yourself, doing so will aid you in understanding what you need to do to overcome this mindset. It is important to remember that no one is truly perfect. Letting go of perfectionism will put an ease on your mental health and benefit you and your child in the best way possible. Whether you expect perfection in yourself or in your child, these remedies below may be able to help
- Make time for yourself: focusing too much on you or your child’s every move can be mentally exhausting and can leave you feeling drained or inadequate if you messed up. Take some of this extra focus and shift it in time for yourself. What recharges you? It could be small simple hobbies such as writing, painting or taking a walk. Whatever it is, making it a habit of it will be good for yourself and will leave you feeling more refreshed and focused on yourself, instead of being focused on what others think of you or negative thoughts you may give yourself.
- Shift your attention: regardless if your child has won a ribbon or lost a sports game, If you find yourself always paying attention to what your child could have done better, you will never get to experience the good that they do, and they’ll never feel their efforts will be enough for you. Instead of criticism being the first thing you say to them, try first to recognize how much effort they put in their achievement or failure and congratulate the good things they did and then if there were any mistakes you feel should be addressed, gently give advice on what can be improved. Doing so will leave you both feeling good in your own efforts.
- Focus on what you know is best for your child: You are the only one who knows what’s best for your child. You’re not their parents for nothing! When you start to pay attention to what you know will benefit your child the most, that parental instinct will kick in and you will want to care for them in the way that you know they will best respond to. There is no one way to raise a child so if it’s different from the way social media portrays the “perfect parent’ or the way your neighbor raises their child, that’s ok! Your kid is their own person and you’re there to guide them to be the best possible version of themselves that they can be!
- Give credit to your strengths. You might not be the best at creating educational activities daily, but if you know you are excellent in arts and crafts, or in baking or just any sort of talent when it comes to parenting, give yourself that credit! Applaud yourself when you helped your child win the best painting in art class and practice showing yourself some compassion when you come across more difficult things.
- Use failures as learning opportunities. Children are bound to fail and make mistakes. Instead of getting worked up about it, take a deep breath and use this opportunity to teach and not scold them about their mistakes. By doing so, they will learn to know for themselves what to do next time and will never develop a fear of failure associated with you.
- Recognize the limits. It’s good to cheer on your child when they're having their struggles but if you are constantly pushing them to keep on trying and to not give up, especially when they seem mentally exhausted, might be a good idea. Pushing your child too hard may result in them thinking they will never be good at what they're trying to succeed in. challenging is good but recognize their limits and give them a break when you’ve seen they have reached them. Remind them that progress is slow and its ok to take it easy every now and then.
Your efforts in wanting to be the best parent you can be, are seen. It is crucial however, that you understand that mistakes will be made! Recognize that your best is just that; your very best. It will never not be enough. Your best may not always be perfect and that is OK. As long as your focus is on you and your child, your journey on parenting will be one you will be able to cherish.