I am already committed to making sure my kids understand that I will never be expecting perfection. They are only young – under 7 – but I am already taking steps to make absolutely sure that they know.
I have two children and the eldest is already following the First Born Play-book. He follows rules – especially with people in authority like teachers. Although, obviously that doesn’t always apply to me! He likes to make sure everyone is happy, that he meets the expectations of the adults in his life and he really hates letting anyone down.
Now, this may sound great but in reality, I can see how much stress he is under, constantly aiming for perfection and trying to succeed. Yet this is not something that I expect and neither does my husband. I was certainly not a perfect child myself – pleasing everyone didn’t even cross my mind, I was more of a free spirit.
Doing your best
In my mind, it is always about doing your best at what you do, being kind to others and staying humble. These things are far more important than trying to achieve perfection.
Of course, when my son comes home from school and tells me how great he did on a test, I praise him, I’m pleased. But I also think he needs to know that perfection is not something that I expect.
One evening, just before his first-grade conferences this year, I sat with him while he was playing Lego and told him straight out – neither I, nor his Dad ever expect him to get a perfect report card.
He seemed surprised that I should even bring it up and told me he already knew that. Silly mom! But even so, I am so glad that I am bringing this up with him and making absolutely sure he knows that perfection is not a requirement.
I am going to have to make sure I continue to let him know as he grows – I don’t want him to become one of those stressed out teens that I would see when I was an English teacher in High School.
It was awful watching kids burning out with the stress of trying to succeed, alongside having to deal with everything else life was throwing at them. Although some colleges may expect perfection many do not.
Teenagers still try to get those perfect grades as well as dealing with all the other things that come their way. It’s unhealthy and ridiculous.
I was once a teacher at a college preparatory school and there would be a stream of students, boys, and girls, coming to my office completely stressed out, often trembling as a result. It was the same story; worries about scoring a B on a test, missing practice for a sports game, missing choir.
Their voices would tremble, there would be tears streaming down their faces. There was just so much pressure on them they were just unable to even consider enjoying their childhood. The could not stand the thought of letting anyone down, yet they were constantly disappointing themselves.
I would tell these kids to take a breath. Having a perfect score in a test, getting into an Ivy League school does not make you a better person. None of these things will validate you. I am going to make sure my own kids understand this too. I am not going to allow them to destroy their physical and mental health striving for perfection.
If they are great human beings who help others if they volunteer at the local soup kitchen or help out a neighbor that’s worth more to me than making them stress out over a B grade. In our home perfection is not the benchmark – doing your best, staying humble and being kind to each other is worth more than any grade.