Are you getting parenting “right” by getting it “wrong”?
My answer is, YES!
I guess we should begin this conversation by scratching the notion that there is one method of parenting, “the right way”, and that any other way is undoubtedly “the wrong way”.
Still, there are some absolutes when it comes to parenting, such as:
- Do tell your children that you love them all of the time.
- Do be affectionate towards your children, often.
- Do respect your children’s choices and boundaries.
- Do foster your child’s independence.
- Do inspire and encourage your child to be the best version of themselves.
- Do push them slightly, so that they are comfortable with challenging themselves.
- Do give them praise.
- Do give them age-appropriate rules.
- Do try to be their emotion coach.
- Do take time to think about how you respond to your child’s negative behavior before just reacting.
- Do give them the attention that they so need and deserve.
- Do help them when help is needed, but encourage them to learn by doing.
- Do encourage them to be curious, to ask questions.
- Do let them have an opinion and the opportunity to express it.
- Do provide them with opportunities for growth — physical, intellectual, and emotional.
- Do meet their needs throughout their whole life — even through adulthood.
- Don’t stifle their individuality.
- Don’t try to make them merely comply to your every command.
- Don’t ever hurt them physically or with your words.
- Don’t interrupt them when they are speaking.
- Don’t make them feel powerless.
- Don’t ever berate them.
- Don’t ever let them feel like they are alone.
- Don’t force them to be affectionate if they do not want to.
- Don’t ask them “what’s wrong with you?” because the answer is nothing is wrong with them.
- Don’t mistake gifts and rewards as a substitute for quality time spent with them.
- Don’t forget that you chose this life of parenthood and that you need to give them every ounce of your love every single day.
- Don’t ever give up on your child.
BUT, if you are a typical human being who feels human emotion and does not possess some super-human power that keeps you immune from the day-to-day stress of being a parent, you will not abide by these absolutes at all times.
As much as so many of us want to be positive role models for our children, the fact remains that we unintentionally screw up often. Yet, the thing about us making mistakes in front of our children is that we offer them a glimpse into “the real world” inside of our safe and secure, loving home.
For me, I feel so much more confident facing things (business meetings, social outings, speaking engagements, or even outings with my kids) when I have prepared for them and have a prior experience from which I can pull lessons from.
What better way for our children to learn that the real world is messy (and so are the people in it) than from letting them (or better yet, helping them) find and gather little wisdom gems hidden within the imperfectly, beautiful mess inside your home. Not only can you pull messages from the less than pleasant, and dare I say, negative experiences, but your tendency to occasionally get things wrong sets the stage for you and your child to have conversations about what would have been right, how to right the wrong and how to ensure that you wrong a little less next time.
I’m a total advocate for making mistakes and learning and growing from them. I am a believer that imperfection is way more authentic and laudable than perfection. Maybe I hold this belief because I tend to reside in a place where I mess up a lot, but I am someone who is a proud product of the mistakes I have made and believe that my children can and will be, too.