parenting 2020

The art of being an imperfect parent in 2020

The art of being an imperfect parent in 2020

If children learned anything in 2020, it’s that adults are fallible. Really fallible.

Maybe this isn’t such a terrible message for our children to learn?

There’s no way around it, our kids were pelted with about a million different ways that adults let them down in 2020. As the year comes to a close, seems like a good time to bring up the idea of self-forgiveness and imperfection.

As parents, we tend to pummel ourselves for every perceived infraction. So, what, if anything, has been valuable in 2020, in terms of life lessons? I know, too many to count.

However, there’s one lesson helpful to our kids. Adults make mistakes, and we don’t have all the answers.

Why does our imperfection help our kids?

Our kids want to please us. No matter the kid. No matter the attitude coming from the kid, they ALWAYS want to please their parents.

The first time I felt like I let my parents down, I was in the fifth grade. Unknown to any of us at the time, I had a learning disability with numbers, plus some executive functioning issues. Fifth-grade algebra broke me.

Normally, I was an “A” student. Finally, though, my brain stopped cooperating and the extra effort I normally poured onto my math lessons didn’t make up for my disability.

I had earned the first “D” in my school career. Honestly, I thought what I’d done was unforgiveable. I called myself all kinds of “stupid.”

At the time, seeing my discomfort, my mother admitted to me her laundry list of bad grades earned in math. Turns out, I wasn’t alone and came by my disability honestly.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned my dad had flunked out of college because of poor grades. In both cases, knowing my parents’ imperfections gave me permission to go a little easier on myself.

I felt relief when I realized I was holding myself to a standard even my parents struggled attaining. They were human, and this knowledge was a huge relief.

Life is hard, and it’s full of hard choices. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we make the wrong decisions. We aren’t, however, bad people.

Kids deserve our honesty around some of these wrong decisions.

Read more about being an imperfect adult in Bryan Robinson’s article, “The Power of Admitting Your Imperfections, published in September, 2020.

Pretending does more damage

Imagine being 10 years old in 2020. Imagine hearing the news and seeing the consequences of poor adult decisions. To say life is confusing right now, for all of us, is an understatement.

At least as an adult, however, we have the luxury of calling a spade a spade. Kids don’t always have this freedom. A kid opinion about world events is rarely asked.

I’m suggesting, as we all begin healing from 2020, that we give our kids the opportunity to vent. We offer them honestly, to a level comfortable for them, about mistakes made by the grown ups.

We allow them the chance to express their frustrations about the year past. We listen.

And, we admit to our own mistakes as parents, as humans. In this way, our kids will see it’s the not the mistakes that really matter, it’s the integrity and perseverance.

For more on parenting imperfectly, read Sue Lively’s piece, “Daring to be Perfectly Imperfect Parents and Kids: Twisted Advice.”

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