Why it’s OK to NOT be a Perfect Parent!

I am the first person to admit that I make mistakes as a mother, lots of them. I am absolutely not perfect, far from it. It is really important to me that people understand this. I have always been uncomfortable being referred to as a ‘parenting expert’ (although the term is necessary for SEO/marketing/PR), because an expert to me is somebody who gets things right most of the time and rarely slips up. Although I find experts inspirational, I don’t view them as ‘real people’ and often they can de-motivate me, when I think “I could never be as amazing as they are”. I don’t want people to look at me and think that I don’t make mistakes, because I do. Everybody does. Perfection just doesn’t exist, real does.

Stressed mother with child
What does a real parent do? They try their best, but there are always times when they wish they had done better, times they slip up, lose their temper and act in ways towards their children that they are not proud of. There are two paths real parents can take and it is these paths that matter more than their mistakes. They can either ignore their flaws, become blinded to them and blame their sometimes ineffective parenting on their children. Or, they can accept their flaws, forgive themselves and learn from them. Teaching their children humility and apology. The latter is the parent I aspire to be and the one that is most beneficial to children.

If you aim to be perfect, you will fail. The pressure you place upon yourself will be too much. One day you will slip up and you will struggle far too much with your guilt. It is better to aim to be ‘good enough’. I have previously written about my 70/30 ratio HERE, in my book it’s OK to be proud of seventy percent of your parenting and feel that thirty percent could be improved upon – so long as you do try to improve it.

Not only are parental slip-ups inevitable, they are also incredibly important. Because if you don’t make mistakes, how will your children learn how to react when they make one? We spend our lives teaching our children, mostly through modelling appropriate behaviour to them. When you make a mistake, when you yell at your child, lose your patience with them and snap at them, they learn that ‘perfect’ is not a goal to aim for, they learn it’s OK to make mistakes and most importantly of all – they learn how to rectify them. When you lose it with your child and you apologise to them, explaining why you acted in a certain way and attempting to rectify the damage, you teach them an incredibly important lesson. How to apologise and make things right. If you don’t make mistakes, you deprive them of this important life lesson!

This doesn’t mean that it’s OK to mess up in a big way everyday, this is what my 70/30 ratio is all about. You need to strive to do your best, but recognise that sometimes your best is enough, even when you don’t feel that it is.

For more on fighting your own parental demons, rectifying your mistakes and controlling your temper, see my new Gentle Discipline Book – out now in the UK and coming soon in the USA and Canada,. 


About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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One Response to Why it’s OK to NOT be a Perfect Parent!

  1. RF12 says:

    I needed to read this today thank you! Ever since I heard about GP I have put immense pressure on myself to be a GP. I don’t understand it fully and I often end up being permissive in a big attempt not to be Authoritarian. I sometimes wonder if that’s worse as my husband is naturally gentle and empathetic but can sometimes react in a more mainstream way- but our 2 yr old is much calmer and “better behaved” for my husband than he is for me – all the time!!! How can I change this and how can I stop myself from being permissive?

    Thank you again for such a reassuring article. X

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