As parents, we set pretty high standards for ourselves. When we’re expecting our first child, we plan on having a child who listens, who is patient while we’re shopping, who never throws a tantrum… And the list goes on. As a friend of mine once said, you never expect to be the parent of the kid who is pitching a fit in the middle of the food court.
But sometimes, you are.
And that’s ok. It’s healthy to lower our expectations of our children, and ourselves, once in a while. Being a parent isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being good enough. While we don’t want to feel as though we’re doing the bare minimum, we also need to accept that there are limitations to what we can do. There will be times when we need to learn to shrug, smile, and say, “I can live with that.”
It can be easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees as a parent. We can get so caught up in the moment to moment, that we forget to consider the bigger picture. If what we’re doing isn’t working, then we need to just stop and try something different. We can’t let ourselves get so caught up in the details that we lose sight of the ultimate goal, whatever that might be.
Settling is not always a bad thing. We want to learn to settle when it comes to the small things, be firm when it comes to the big ones, and get really good at telling the difference. Consider the big-picture goals you have for your children and your family. What in your lifestyle today really doesn’t contribute to those goals, but is taking a lot of time and/or energy? Perhaps it’s being over-scheduled. It could be struggling to keep the house as clean and tidy as it was pre-parenthood. Maybe it’s living up to a standard set by your own parents when you were a child. Or possibly just the opposite: doing everything your parents didn’t do when you were a child. Perhaps you find yourself struggling to keep up with the Jones’ and their well-groomed, over-achieving, perfect-scoring youngsters.
It’s ok to give yourself a break. Remind yourself that whenever you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Make sure that you feel good about what you’re saying both yes and no to. We all have our own versions of what “perfect” is. The only upside to comparing ourselves to other parents is when they inspire and energize us.
Right now, there is a real temptation to create a resolution list that’s miles long. Ask yourself if maybe there’s something you could let go of or loosen your grip on at least. It just might make room for something else – like a more relaxed home life, fewer power struggles, more cooperation, or just some peace of mind.
A New Year’s Challenge for you: what is one thing you could do this month to improve your relationship with your children?
It might help to worry less about what others are doing and focus more on Deciding What You Will Do instead.
Maybe a part of your stress is the expectations you have of others in your life who have let you down. Letting Go Of The Past might help – here’s how.