New Years Resolutions – No More “Perfect Parents” 

This is one resolution worth keeping!

The holiday season is a time for resolutions. I’d like to suggest one for you to consider: I will enjoy the experience of parenting more. This is a mantra to invoke in the carpool line, holiday traveling with kids and during a toddler’s tantrum.
In my work with families I am often surprised (and dismayed) by the pressure parents put on themselves to be perfect. In most cases this perfectionism is a bi-product of passion for their child. But the cost of this “passion” is diminished pleasure. If this energy could be reallocated to something more important (such as, I don’t know, 101 ways to have fun with mud) the parent-child world would be happier.
When I talk with a parent who is caught up in the morass of perfectionism (a friend calls them “militant moms”), I suggest she reflect on the experience of children worldwide and throughout history. Think about it, children manage to survive with skinned knees and no antibacterial gel.
What history and culture teach us is that, by and large, children are resilient. So children may benefit from some space to get messy, explore or explode. It is OK for them to cry out loud in public and be bratty. It’s what they do—worldwide! If other adults in the airplane or mall fail to recognize this, they are simply not informed in the ways of childhood. So ignore their glares, and go to your happy place.

To help your resolution stick, here’s a short list of what babies and toddlers do not need:

Here’s what children require to thrive emotionally:

Let’s refrain from judging ourselves or other parents harshly. The reality is, parents have a lot of latitude for imperfection if they give their child what matters. And the experience of parenting and childhood is enhanced when there is happiness and acceptance even in a perfectly imperfect world.

Dr. Pat BlackwellDr. Pat Blackwell is a licensed psychologist who has worked with families for over 30 years. See her website for more information and her blog Check out more from Dr. Blackwell here.

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