Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Myth of Perfection

Psychologist Diana Siskind, in her book Working with Parents, suggests the image of the ideal parent who is loving, wise, kind, patient and reasonable (the one we wanted for ourselves and the one we aspired to become when we had children of our own) is an image only. This applies to grandparents as well.

We would love to be that "perfect person". Is that realistic? We may have perfect intentions but life gets in the way of our plans. Being perfect suggests that we are all powerful and gives us the illusion that we can control the events and people around us.

Emotions, ours and others, get in the way of our relationships and we often find ourselves responding with anger, threats, criticism or playing the blame game. Some people respond by internalizing the anger and might withdraw or beg to be listened to.

Being "perfect" puts a lot of pressure on everyone. When we pressure a child to be "perfect" that child often feels they are failing us because they are unable to live up to our demands. Hearing our anger, children may think it is their fault. In actuality, it probably has nothing to do with them, you just may be having a bad day. Children may also feel responsible for your happiness. That is a tremendous burden at any age.

We are human and we don't have all the answers. It is alright to say,
"That's a good question...I don't have the answer right now, but let me think about it."

We often ask children too many questions. This can add to feelings of insecurity when children don't know how to respond, since children feel safe and secure knowing that the adult is in control.

If we can get rid of the myth of "perfection," what a relief it will be for everyone.

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