We all have our moments, right? Those times when we worry whether we're messing our kids up permanently?
I had a doctor once who told my husband and me, "it's not whether you're going to mess up your kids. It's how."
That was both liberating -- and terrifying -- to hear.
He explained that our goal should be to minimize the serious screw-ups, so that what remains is the natural fall-out that happens when you share a roof with other human beings for the better part of two decades. It has its highlights. And it leaves its scars.
But what if – yes, what if – some of those "parent fails" are actually parent wins in disguise?
- What if parents who “make mistakes” teach kids that humans make mistakes
- What if parents who "lose their cool" and then apologize teach kids the importance of asking for forgiveness – and of forgiving themselves
- What if parents who cry when something sad happens teach their kids that adults have feelings, too – and that it is acceptable – even healthy -- to express them
- What if parents who work outside of the home let go of the guilt and realize that they are fostering independence in their kids
- What if parents who make the time to exercise stop worrying about the 'time away' and realize that they are teaching kids the value of health and self-care
- What if parents who say “no” with respect and non-judgment realize that they are teaching kids to set limits for themselves and make good choices.
All too often we parents beat ourselves up for being human with our kids, as if we are somehow expected to be perfect. Kids don't want us to be perfect – it's actually really intimidating for them!
Instead, by showing our human-ness, we are helping our kids see what life is really like – the good, the bad and the ugly. That will prepare them for adulthood better than any false notion that everything should always be perfect and in control.
I don't know about you, but as wonderful as life can be – and truly, I know how blessed I am – it is far from perfect! I want my kids to know that, so that they will be able to see the joys in life, and navigate the disappointments.
And the best part of all? I can do that by making mistakes, being human, and trusting that doing my best is actually good enough!