Imperfect Parenting

No one is a perfect parent. How can we improve our parenting even if we don’t strive for perfection?

I’m a pretty good parent. However, I am most definitely not perfect. That’s ok. Sure, I have ideals I strive for as a parent. But I’m a work in progress, as is my son.

While we are, for the most part, able to interact with each other respectfully and lovingly and still manage to keep to a basic schedule, feed, clothe and transport our child from place to place (school, enrichment activities etc), sometimes everything seems to fall apart. And given that my son has special needs, it’s probably pretty amazing that we don’t fall apart more often.

Sometimes these flaws are minor, like the time I forgot to take him to swim class because we were engaged in a game of monopoly. Sometimes more egregious – like the time I had the wrong time for a Halloween party and we showed up after it had ended (my son is still mad at me about that). 

And sometimes, all heck breaks loose, like the time we had a perfect storm of scared child, tired cranky mommy and frustrated daddy in the bathroom trying to get the scared child to take his medicine.  The result wasn’t pretty and involved some physical constraint – which only made things worse – but what can you do – he had to have the medicine. While we succeeded in getting him the medicine, it was not our finest example of optimal parenting. Fortunately, he has since forgiven us.

These sorts of full on blow outs don’t happen too often, but when they do, my husband and I feel like failures as parents.  I know we aren't alone. Every parent I talk to feels like this from time to time.

The week after the perfect storm in the bathroom incident, I was speaking to another mom. I rarely lose my cool. Maybe once every month or so.  She laughed and said that for her, yelling is a weekly thing. Ugh.  Despite my conviction at the time that I was a total failure as a parent, it turns out that I’m not doing too bad. 

I may not be perfect, but I’m still pretty good.  And maybe that’s all I need to shoot for. Being perfect is never going to happen. Being pretty good – that I can manage. It’s about redefining what I consider to be success. Which at this point with my kid includes – getting him to adulthood alive and helping him to learn the skills he needs to be independent in his life. 

And actually, I’ve begun to look at our occasional flare ups as part of his education.  Yeah, they are unpleasant, but he does need to learn how to deal with and recover from unpleasantness. I’m clearly rationalizing.  The real question should be  how to improve our parenting.  How can we have more harmony and happiness in our household and less drama.

Here is my approach and advice.  If you feel something isn’t working and you don’t know how to fix it. Stop. Stop what you are doing and move on to plan B.  Recognize what you are doing isn’t working – for you or your child – try to find another way. And yeah – the onus is on you, the parent, to change.  Don’t expect your kid to miraculously change their behavior until you change yours!  Reach out to other parents and ask them for help. Read up on positive parenting blogs to learn tips and tricks. Take it one obnoxious annoying behavior at a time. And eventually – you should be able to have more harmony and less screaming fights. But YOU, have to make an effort to learn those skills. You are the adult, act like it.

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