I’ve been sharing powerful tips on parenting that have helped me, and so many other parents. Like so many other tips on parenting, this one involves become more conscious of our parenting beliefs, and making changes that can profoundly influence our families’ lives. If you can embrace the concept that imperfection is great parenting, you will be giving your family a powerful legacy for generations to come.
My mother’s underlying message to us kids was that we were bad. She didn’t consciously decide to send us this message, and she did tell us she loved us and recognized our goodness at times. To be honest, I am praying she doesn’t read this because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. She clearly was operating from her own woundedness. I have no agenda to change my mom. I get that she did the best that she knew how. My agenda has been to heal my own woundedness and to help other moms do the same.
I am a recovering perfectionist. My childhood message of not being good enough morphed into a desire to be perfect so I’d finally get the unconditional love I so needed. My journey from an often angry mom, who also suffered from depressed and to a lesser degree anxiety, to happy, calm, non-medicated mom has involved me learning how to give and get that unconditional love. In learning to be the parent I so needed, I’ve healed and continue to grow in my ability to parent from a place other than love and acceptance. Along the way I’ve learned to laugh more, and I’ll share a funny perfectionism-related story in a moment.
I’ve done three radio interviews lately on the perils of perfectionism in parenting. I love helping women see how they are hampering their own success by their often unconscious perfectionism. Many perfectionistic moms don’t think they are near perfect enough, Anger issues, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and many other painful conditions are fed or even created by our unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
We idolize women like Martha Stewart and allow ourselves to feel bad because we can’t measure up. Often times, that message gets passed on to our kids; they perceive that they are bad because they aren’t perfect. No mother consciously wants to make her kids feel bad; it is just part of the dark side of being a Super Mom on Steroids (to read the article where I coined the term, click here).
Part of my recovery from perfectionism involves replacing that critical voice inside with a loving, supportive voice that sees the good I am doing, recognizes my humanity, and loves me even when I fall far short of my ideals. It is brilliant that I teach, coach and do presentations on perfectionism, because I continue to discover new levels of healing through my work. At the same time I am touched by the moms who tell me how helpful my coaching, writing or presentations are to them. I am passionate about helping as many women free themselves from this trap that causes you and your families so much unnecessary pain.
I want to share a funny and powerful example of how, if we release our perfectionistic expectations, everyone benefits. Yesterday, on an interview for Dori DeCarlo’s Word of Mom Blog Talk Radio Show, we were able to demonstrate how lower expectations make for perfect moments! The message was powerful during this very unconventional radio show.
As a perfectionist, you probably say, “should” to yourself a lot. I certainly would have thought before yesterday that the radio host “should” be on the call for the whole hour! Seems like a reasonable assumption. Yet we all know technology happens, and although my computer/power in my house haven’t crashed yet during a call, I love that I know have lots of ideas for how to handle the situation! Lots of laughter is part of the key, and ironically, our message was augmented, not diminished by the experience.
You’ve probably guessed the gist of what happened. Shortly after giving the definition of perfectionism, a friend of Dori’s, Janice Clark, called in. As Janice and I were talking, Dori’s house lost its power. She was bumped off the show for what seemed like 10 minutes. At one point Janice joked about how she’d taken over Dori’s job as host. I’d already suspected that Dori wasn’t there, because this usually animated host hadn’t said a peep in at least 5 minutes! Her continued silence even after Janice’s comment spoke volumes, and yet we were having a great conversation about perfectionism, and the show must go on!
I loved how Dori handled the situation when she returned. We talked about what happened and her attempts to get back on the call. We laughed a lot, and marveled at the perfection of this situation to prove the power of relaxing our expectations. By laughing at our imperfections, we were giving moms listening the chance to relax about their flaws too. That’s a gift I want to give every man, woman and child on earth.
Interestingly enough, while Dori DeCarlo was in the dark trying to call in, Janet Turner was talking about how Tyra Banks shared her pre-airbrushed photos, and also removed her makeup and even bra, to show her imperfections. I was very moved when I saw Oprah do a show where she went from waking up to fully made up. Jamie Lee Curtis has given a similar gift with photos of her without effects to make her look her best. All three of these women are giving us a gift far more powerful than telling us we are all beautiful; when they show that they also have times when they don’t look near as glamorous as usual, we all breathe a sigh of relief!
You can take the same inspiration from parents who share their tough times. Sometimes what you need is not another beauty or parenting tip, but to know that another parent has gone from disaster (the women above before makeup were a beauty disaster) to parenting with joy and ease, most of the time. You can bridge the painful and sometimes huge gap between who you want to be as a parent, and who keeps showing up with your kids. I am offering you part of my story, just like Tyra and Oprah and Jamie Lee, so that you can relax about your parental imperfections, and realize what a wonderful mom you really are.
Share this post with your friends , especially those ones who are a bit too uptight and are suffering from a sense that things should be done a certain way. You’ll be giving them a real gift, because perfecti0nism is a painful condition that far too many people suffer from. Many angry, anxious and depressed people are trapped in their perfectionism, and need to be shown how to be free. This is one of the tips on parenting that can profoundly change your life, and make your family a much more nurturing, forgiving and fun place to grow up in!