Having the Courage to be Imperfect

Are you one of those parents that typically feels insecure If your child misbehaves or makes irresponsible choices? One of the parenting techniques that I teach is having the courage to be imperfect, which really boils down to allowing your children to be imperfect.

Although it is your responsibility to help them to learn the rules and the norms of society, it is also important to allow them to have difficulty in certain arenas, knowing that they will rebound and learn from their mistakes.

Many parents feel pressure to be perfect. They are afraid that their children are a reflection of their ability to set good boundaries and consequences. There is no reason to put pressure on yourself if you tend to be that type of parent. As a matter of fact, you can be a good role model by demonstrating that you absolutely believe in your child, even when they bring home a D+ instead of their typical B. You may anguish and fear that accepting the D+ will give them permission to perform poorly again, when in reality you make statements that tell them that you are sure they have learned an important lesson and encourage them to do better next time.

What happens when the misbehavior has greater ramifications? The behavior may involve stealing or cheating? This does require a strategy that involves self-talk: “Yes, my child definitely made a mistake when taking that game from a store, but it opened up a valuable conversation with him. I then set consequences that matched the crime, developed better boundaries that were instilled as a result of the bad behavior, and told them myself that this can lead to them learning a life lesson that they will not endure again.” You can’t control when your child makes a bad decision that was separate from the good teachings that you’ve instilled in him or her. But you can use it to develop good dialogue, boundaries and consequences.

Think back to when you were a child. What was the most common mistake that you made repeatedly until you learned to get it right? Maybe it was that you didn’t study long enough or hard enough for that exam. Maybe you chose to cheat on your math tests until you got caught. Perhaps you even shoplifted from that neighborhood store until the manager caught you and called your parents. This did not necessarily make you a bad person. It meant that you tested the limits and thought you would either be able to get away with it and avoid the consequences and punishments that occurred when you did something wrong. And look at you…you turned out well.

Just know that if you allow your children to be imperfect, you then allow yourself to be imperfect as a parent. Having the courage to be imperfect means that you don’t carry the pressure of what other people must think about you.

When you allow your child to make mistakes and experience either the natural or the logical consequences of their decisions, you will be recognizing that they’re learning from the school of hard knocks. When you have tried to instill something in them and they make poor choices, the school of hard knocks can be extremely reinforcing and helps them to learn what to do next time. Parenting is about allowing your children to be independent thinkers.

As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.” Have faith in their imperfections!

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