I Don’t Want Perfect Kids

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I Don’t Want Perfect Kids As I was sitting down to write this, I heard a crash come from the garage. For a moment, I sighed heavily, squinted my eyes shut, and determined not to check on that sound. When I heard my six-year-old wailing, though, I begrudgingly closed my laptop and headed for the door. 

My husband had agreed to take the kids out to dinner so I could write, and as he backed the van out of the driveway, he told my son to put up a soccer ball that was in the yard. Instead of placing it gently in the basket where it belongs, he kicked it toward the wall and knocked down a glass jar. Crash! That was it. Some broken glass, a few nuts and bolts knocked from the shelf, but no one was hurt. My kindergartener was only crying because he thought he would be in trouble for making a mistake.

I never meant to teach my kids perfection.

If you go by just the words that I say, very often you would find that I tell them they don’t have to be perfect, it’s okay to make mistakes, accidents happen. But unfortunately my actions sometimes tell a different story. 

Sometimes they drop a gallon of milk on the floor, and I start screaming at them to quit standing there and grab some towels.
Sometimes they break a toy and I lecture them about being responsible with our things.
Sometimes they get a bad grade and I bemoan their poor study skills.
Sometimes my actions say I expect them to think like adults when their brains are still just kids.

Obviously, I’m not perfect either. Sometimes I drop things and make a mess. Sometimes I break things, forget things, fail at things, because that is simply what humans do. Of course I want my kids to be careful, responsible, and conscientious, but is any of that more important than them knowing they are loved unconditionally? Is anything really more important than this?

There are thousands of things I want my kids to learn while they are in my home and under my wing, so many things that it’s almost guaranteed I will never get around to teaching them everything. Rather than frustrating myself with the lessons I may not be able to teach and frustrating them with the lessons they may not be able to learn, I can instead focus on giving them a solid foundation of love on which to build their lives as they grow.

On TikTok, Abraham Piper encourages parents not to get so caught up in preparing our kids for the future that we don’t invest in the present. “Don’t worry about giving your kids a good future,” he says, “give them a good past. A huge part of who we feel we are as individuals is our memories — our history — and our kids are becoming themselves every day in this respect, and we’re in charge of it… We do get to determine one very important aspect of our children’s adult lives: the childhood they bring into it.”

@abrahampiper All the sudden being a good parent feels possible… #parenting #dadsoftiktok #parentsoftiktok #parentingadvice #parentingtips #alisongopnik #babies #kids #childhood #earlychildhood #psychology♬ original sound – Abraham Piper

I don’t want perfect kids, and I really don’t want to control every aspect of their lives. (Honestly I struggle plenty managing my own life!) I want them to know they are loved, secure, safe, and cared for. And that doesn’t happen by simply telling them they’re okay. I’m working on taming my knee-jerk reactions to give them connection instead of perfection.

True, my son shouldn’t have kicked the soccer ball in the garage, but he’s six, of course he would want to kick it. My husband and I reminded him that the ball basket is over there, so next time he can put it away like he was asked, but at the end of the day, it’s just a broken jar. I’m glad he was far enough away that he wasn’t hurt by broken glass. The ball made it back into the basket. We swept up the mess in a matter of seconds. Why should he fear making mistakes?

He shouldn’t. And that’s my mistake.

I’m not a perfect parent, and I don’t want perfect kids. But I do want them to know perfect love.

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