The Dangers of Being a Perfectionist Parent
As a parent living in a modern, American society, it’s not hard to get caught up in the struggle for perfection. We hear about perfect parties, perfect grades, and yes, perfect kids.
Many parents set this unrealistic goal for their children, not realizing that a failure to achieve perfection can have a damaging effect on our kids and our relationship with them. There are many dangers to being a perfectionist parent and raising perfectionist kids.
Perfectionism creates a fear of rejection. Perfectionist parents are trying to raise kids who are ambitious and set their sights high, but often the drive to achieve is only propelled by a child’s fear of rejection. They seek constant approval and feel worthless if they don’t receive it.
Perfectionism creates kids who are dissatisfied with themselves. When the bar is set too high, first by parents, and then by kids themselves, it becomes almost impossible to hit achievable goals. This leaves kids feeling worthless and dissatisfied with themselves.
Perfectionism causes anxiety and guilt. Because many of the goals set by perfectionist parents and kids are totally unrealistic, many kids soon find that achievements and successes are totally devoid of pleasure. Anxiety and guilt take over, leaving a void that can’t be filled by parents, friends, and other interests.
Encouraging perfectionism in your kids will damage your relationship with them. Setting expectations that aren’t achievable may actually backfire. Many kids realize that they will never meet their parent’s high expectations, and they simply stop trying. These kids may not be in danger of becoming perfectionists themselves, but they distance themselves from their parents in order to create goals they can actually achieve and feel good about.
Being a perfectionist parent simply isn’t worth it! Our kids are beautiful, creative, and individual human beings. Perfection does not have to be a goal.
If you or your kids are struggling with perfectionism, I highly recommend the book Passionate Parenting. Written by Cary Schmidt, Passionate Parenting speaks to the heart of parents, helping them strengthen their goal with Jesus Christ, accept their kids fully, and enjoy the teenage years for what they are — a period of intense growth that should be fostered and embraced by the grace of God.
Raising kids is one of the most difficult and beautiful tasks you will ever undertake. By shedding your unrealistic aspirations and focusing on parenting with passion and love, you will undoubtedly deepen your relationship with your kids and find truth and happiness based on who you are, not what you, or your kids, achieve.