How “Perfect Parents” Are Ruining Their Kids

perfect parents

Homemade, organic meals derived from the totally organic farm animals you raise from infanthood to adulthood massaging gently every night before a lovely bedtime story and a meal of organic grass at every meal, perfectly matched clothing from head to toe, perfectly perfect answers and a perfect mood all the time. You never raise your voice. You never become flustered. You and everything in your life is perfect at all times; you are perfect.

Except that you are not perfect. I am not perfect. The only thing in my life that is perfect is my house at all times, and only because I am such an imperfectly anal-retentive obsessive-compulsive neat freak who might break down in tears if there is a dirty dish in the sink or a toy out of place when we leave the house. See? I’m not perfect (but my house is!). We are all imperfect and I believe it was the imperfect Dr. Suess who once said that we are all a little weird and that’s all right. But I do have to tell you perfect parents who make it your goal in life to be perfect all the time a little something. You are breaking your kids.

Seriously; and I’m not judging you or being rude or saying you’re not doing it right. I’m just saying that being perfect is overrated and not an achievable goal, and it makes me worry for your kids. Listen, I have four kids of my own and I’m a reformed ‘perfect’ parent. Or not; my kids can have goldfish for breakfast if they just get up and get dressed and actually follow directions in the morning. I cannot cook to save my life (the fire alarm goes off when I look at the oven). I ruin laundry all the time. I panic if my kids leave a toy out of place. My car has to be clean at all times. I am fine with McDonalds as a meal and I bribe my kids with a Dunkin Donuts breakfast every single morning if they make it possible for us to get out of the house on time.

And organic? Unless I missed that on lunchables at some point, it’s never happened here. I don’t care how you parent your kids so long as you are not harming them or putting them in danger, but I am going to tell you that trying day after day to be perfect is breaking your kids. I know this because I already broke my oldest.

She was our first. It was easy. Everything was perfect all the time. I had time to be a perfect mom and to do arts and crafts. I didn’t lose my temper with her. I was perfect. Then I had my second. Then I had twins. Now the only thing perfect about my is (again) my house and my hair and makeup (and only because I’m vain). I broke my daughter.

She watched me and she learned from me. She is now terrified of messes. She is now overwhelmed when something is out of place. We might tell her it’s time for bed and she will have a literal panic attack because she didn’t put her shoes away in the right place and now it’s bedtime and she doesn’t know what to do. If she makes a mistake, she berates herself because that’s what I used to do to myself when I made a mistake. She’s uptight, she worries too much and she’s hard on herself. I see old me in her every move. It’s not easy, either. I broke her trying to attain perfection at every which way.

I’ve learned to overcome that, and now I have to fix my daughter. It’s not easy; but we are working on it. That’s why I want to say this to parents who feel that it’s not all right to let your kids see you flustered, upset or frustrated. It’s all right to not be hard on yourself when something goes wrong. It’s all right to admit that you make mistakes and that you are imperfect and that you are not someone who can do everything all the time. It’s all right. Your kids need to see what real life looks like and not what your Instagram-inspired perfect life looks like.

They need to see you deal with life when it’s coming your direction. They learn from us, and we need them to grow up to become well-rounded people who know that mistakes are all right because they’re how we learn. We need them to understand that perfection is not real and chasing it is tiring. We need to raise our voices and become impatient from time to time so that our kids see that we are not perfect, and so that they learn what to do if this happens to them; and that is calming down and apologizing. We need them to learn how to be good people and not quite so neurotic. What I’m saying is this; be yourself. This is how you’re going to raise good kids.

Organic meals 24/7 or McDonalds drive-thru meals on practice nights; I don’t care. Co-sleep, don’t co-sleep, breast-feed, don’t breast-feed, wear your baby, don’t wear your baby; don’t care. Just don’t break them, okay? I say this because it’s going to save you thousands in therapy costs – and sanity.

Photo by Getty Images

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