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Why you should stop trying to be ‘the perfect parent’

 Parental techniques vary from family to family (Photo: Shutterstock)

Like many other jobs out there, parenting is one that comes with its own set of expectations. We all want to do our best and thrive much like we would at any of our other jobs. 

Parental techniques vary from family to family. As you plan for your little one, you might come up with a list of dos and don’ts for when your new family addition arrives. These might be as a result of your own experiences growing up, watching other parents or advice from parenting books and articles. 

Even as you plan to succeed at being the best parent you can be, it’s not unusual for things to take a different turn when the baby comes.

Unmet expectations

As my daughter comes into her own, I’ve had to reconcile myself to the fact that my plans for how I raise her might need to change. You see, there are no cookie-cutter children. Their behaviour will vary depending on their character traits and the environment they are exposed to. This means that you can’t take your planned parental strategies and techniques and apply them to your child blindly. There will be times when they fail to meet your expectations and you have to adjust accordingly. 

Neither your child’s behaviour nor the failure of your parental expectations is a representation of how good of a parent you are. 

 Strive to the best parent you can be (Photo: Shutterstock)

It’s okay to make mistakes

Just as you apply trial and error to different aspects of your life, you will need to do the same when it comes to raising your child. There will be times when your plans for bringing up the “perfect” child and being the “perfect” parent fall through. But you need not beat yourself up for it. 

As you and your child try to deal with each other, it will take time to find the best way to communicate and solve problems that will arise. However, you shouldn’t lose heart. Trust your instincts and you will get through whatever life throws at you. And if something you tried didn’t work out, now or in the past, don’t give up. Look for alternatives. 

Remember, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, angry, inadequate, guilty, confused, inadequate and worried. But as a parent, your intuition is sharpened so trust your instincts.

Avoid comparisons

No matter what you see on TV, online or in books or magazines, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What many parents post on their social media are just highlights and not a true representation of what their day to day life looks like. So don’t beat yourself up if your daughter’s hair doesn’t look perfect all the time or your son’s clothes are torn and faded as if you never buy him new ones. 

All children will, at one point or the other, throw a tantrum in public and that’s okay. Many times the tantrum is a way for your child to express their emotions which they wouldn’t otherwise know how to address. That you ignore the tantrum and let your child settle down before attempting to sort out their problem doesn’t make you a worse parent than any other parent.

 Adjust your parenting strategies to each child's temperament (Photo: Shutterstock)

The perfect parent doesn’t exist. All parents face challenges when raising their children, no matter what they might want you to believe. Keep the following in mind: 

Try different parenting techniques and find what best suits you and your child. Seek the support of other parents and experts if you feel you need extra help.

Avoid overcompensating for the past. Unless your parents were pure evil, they did their best in raising you and you’re free to choose a different path. However, avoid purposefully pressuring yourself to be a perfect parent. Learn from the past and forgive yourself when things don’t work out.

Don’t give too much importance to unsolicited advice. Turn a deaf ear to people who tell you what you should or shouldn’t do as a parent. Find your way.

Be a flexible parent. Since you have your preferences, adapt them to your child’s needs. Manage your expectations. Don’t try to measure your worth as a parent or individual on how your child turns out. 

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