It’s okay not to be perfect. Parents, you need to hear this. It is okay that you aren’t perfect. It’s okay that you don’t always know what you are doing, that you make mistakes, that you don’t know all of the answers to all of the questions.
I remember when I first became a mom. There was so much I didn’t know! Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there for first time parents to help them along. So, I did all that I could to prepare and learn practical tips for life as a mom. I also had friends and family that I could learn from. And, I must confess, still I didn’t do everything right.
However, my son was a baby so the pressure to be perfect was small. Obviously I needed to do the big things—like keeping him alive—well. But, figuring out a schedule, learning the routines involved with life as a parent and so on and so forth—those I could kind of figure out as I went along without him being ever the wiser.
Now, though, the stakes are higher. The kids are older—and there are more of them—so the memories will be stronger, the effects of mistakes perhaps larger. Thankfully, I tend to learn from my mistakes so most of the mistakes I made when I first became a mom I don’t make anymore. I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve developed some skills. I’ve grown in understanding and wisdom when it comes to this parenting thing.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that there are always new mistakes to make! And, I’ve come to know that each season of parenting requires a new set of wisdom. One that is primarily gained through experience. A strong value system is important because it guides your behavior and shapes your choices. Growing in character is imperative as a parent because then you respond to circumstances with your child out of who you are rather than the situation around you. And, it is important to never stop learning from the resources available to you—especially those around you that have done this parenting thing before you did and done it well.
However, it is often going through the experience and having to put it all in action that causes you to grow as a parent. On the job training, if you will. Without the training.
So, sometimes it is easy to feel as though you are failing. Very few parents fail. And, if you are worried that you are failing, chances are quite high that you are not. Making mistakes isn’t failing. It’s okay not to be perfect. The key to successful parenting isn’t in being perfect. It’s in being humble.
When you make a mistake, admit it. Apologize. Ask forgiveness. When you don’t know the answer? Say that and then do what you can to figure it out. Kids don’t need perfect parents. Kids need loving parents that are genuinely connected to them. In fact, it is good for them to know that you don’t have everything figured out. Why? Because they don’t have everything figured out themselves. Having a living example of someone who lives life well, if not perfectly, is important. Seeing that there is a process when you screw up—taking responsibility for yourself, apologizing, making it right and learning from your mistake (etc.)—is great training for our children to grow up as responsible, healthy, and happy human beings.
Being a parent is a big responsibility. Beyond that, it is a sacred trust. A life (or two or three or seven, in my case) has been entrusted to us. We are the only parents our child(ren) will ever get. We owe it to them to do it well. But, perfection? Not necessary. Not possible. So, cut yourself some slack. Chances are, you’re better at this than you think.