Not a perfect parent? Imperfect parenting with imperfect children

Perfect parent

Are you worried you are not the perfect parent?

I have a confession to make up front……I have a professional crush on Dr Brene Brown. In my defence it appears I am not alone as her TED talk in 2010 on the “Power of Vulnerability” has been listed as one of  the most popular TED Talks of all time. She has also written a number of books on parenting including  “The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting”.

Dr Brown has an ability to tell stories with empathy and humour. She is able to balance her professionalism with her own challenges with vulnerability and demonstrates the powerful message of  ME TOO. She validates the difficult job parents have coupled with nudging them to explore different ways to parent. Dr Brown gives parents the permission to be imperfect. She acknowledges that our children do not come with a hand book and we all make mistakes. All of us.

This is not a message that is unique to Dr Brown however what makes Dr Brown’s message truly powerful is the dual message that our children are not perfect either. She challenges us to rethink our role  when we hold our children for the first time. Dr Brown states that it is dangerous to view our children as  perfect and to see our role as keeping them perfect. She states it is our job to look at them and say “you  know what you’re imperfect and you are wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging”.  Imagine that? We don’t love you because you are good or perfect but because your worth is intrinsic and we are not good or perfect either and we struggle too.

The message this gives to our children as they are growing up is that vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength. We offer our children the ability to be courageous, to ask for help when they need it, to have  compassion for themselves first and then to others. Most importantly they will have more chance of that fundamental human need of connection because they will risk being truly authentic and will be willing to let go of who they should be and embrace who they really are. They will believe they are enough.

I often get asked by parents how to explain to their child they are coming to see me. I suggest they tell  them they are worried FOR them and not ABOUT them. I encourage parents to give them the clear message they are NOT the problem. I invite parents to tell them everyone struggles with feelings, behaviours, friendships and relationships sometimes including themselves.

These messages help with guilt and shame. It helps children to feel more courageous and open to exploring skills and traits that will put them in good stead throughout life. Coming to see me then  becomes about their parents and I working together to support them. As adults we know life is not neat and tidy and we cannot always control what happens but we can encourage them to be more flexible and  we can help them engage with the world from a place of worthiness. They are and always will be good enough.

All this from an imperfect parent? Who knew!

Next time I would like to explore family culture including values. In the meantime I encourage you to think about what values you practice in your family that support your imperfect parenting of your imperfect child?

If you would like any support or additional guidance with parenting or any worries you have for your  child please feel free to contact us here at Attuned Psychology and one of our experienced Psychologists will be able to assist.

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