Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

How to Be Perfect

I’m a perfectionist. For me, being a perfectionist means not only that when I do something that it’s done right, but that if you want to do something… you really ought to just let me do it my way instead.

You would think that after 20 years of being with someone that tends to do things their own way, and that after four years raising a child who is very much his own kind of perfectionist, and that certainly since the birth of our second child I would give in and learn to relax and be more accepting, but, I haven’t. A good friend with 3 daughters told me recently, “Learn to be extremely patient. Have nothing but patience. You have no choice. You’ll go crazy.”

But how? How does one learn to be patient? How do I learn to accept things for what they are? Call me crazy but I can’t.

My fear is that I am beginning to apply my perfectionist perspective to my children. That cannot happen. I know enough about child development to know that I shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations with my children. With children, you have to be patient and accepting, and to teach them to be patient and accepting, too. When a child is having a confrontation with another child, we talk with them about seeing another’s perspective so they can problem solve together. We use soft voices when working with children and we listen to everyone involved, giving each child their turn to speak. We ask questions to gain more information and allow a full dialog to develop. While sometimes it takes a while for a child to let go of their own perspective, usually they can find a solution that makes everyone happy or at least content enough to move on. And sometimes? We don’t. And that’s okay, too.

I admit I have a hard time finding balance between my knowledge of early childhood and my perfectionist ideology of what a family is. It’s hard having children, and I only have two! It’s hard being a guy doing what I do on a daily basis but something has got to give because my family deserves the best, most “perfect” dad and husband there is. Because when you’re part of a family, being “perfect” means being flexible, patient, accepting help, and saying thanks.

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