It’s Okay to be an Imperfect Parent

Information and opinions about how to be a “good parent” has increased exponentially over the years.  Once upon a time, parenting information came from an old Dr. Spock book and the local Child services nurse and that was it. 

Now, we are inundated with parenting books, parenting courses, newspaper articles and blog posts about what to do, what not to do and how to “get it right”.   Everyone has an opinion about how to be a good parent and what defines bad parenting.  

We accept this as normal but I’m pretty sure that our parents thought far less about the “right” way to parent – they just did it!

While all the parenting information and discussion we have access to today is often (or even mostly) helpful, one down side is that it is easy to start to feel the pressure to be the perfect parent.  We start to worry about whether we are really doing it right, whether we are good parents or not and what other people think about our parenting.  I read recently that one third of parents lie about their child’s sleeping patterns because of worry about what others would think of their parenting.

I like to remind my clients (and myself) of one of my favourite quotes:  “There is no way to be a perfect parent but a million ways to be a good one” (Jill Churchill).    There are many different kinds of parenting styles, practices and approaches around the world which have the potential to nurture a wonderfully healthy child.  Just because we don’t do it the same way as our friends, or parent like the “book” says – it doesn’t necessarily mean our parenting is wrong or harmful to our children.

Even when we stuff up as parents – and we know it – making these mistakes can actually be helpful for our child.  We get the opportunity to apologise, change our mind, repair relationships and make amends.  And we can do this in front of them.  This teaches the child far more than if we had got it right the first time.  They learn a lot from just watching us handle that situation as gracefully as we can (even if it takes us a while to regroup).

So parents, go ahead and make mistakes.  Be okay with your imperfection.  Don’t feel the pressure to be like everyone else, nor to follow all the parenting advice you get.   As long as we are committed to keeping on learning and growing as parents, our children will be okay.