Real Talk

The Pressure To Be Perfect Parents: “It’s Never Enough.”

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To all the parents who are trying to be perfect, we see you.

When many well-wishers offer their advice (both solicited or unsolicited), it can sound and feel like an attack. Every parent wants to be perfect for their kids. But somehow, everything we seem to do is wrong. Their shoe is wrong, they’re walking funny, our choice of clothes for them is wrong, why they’re not talking at 6 months old — at some point, it’ll feel like even the way we breathe is wrong. And when we reach that point, we’ll be left with the question: when is it enough?

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

To assume that it only takes two people to raise a child is folly; kids pick up all sorts of things from their environment. Besides germs, they pick up mannerisms, behaviors, and even quotes we never taught them. Yet, people are quick to judge parents when they see them dealing with their child throwing a tantrum in the mall. Living in a culture where society’s good and peace are a top priority can drive a parent mad. Instead of teaching emotional regulation, there’s the quick-fix solution of power tripping so long as it takes the eyes off us and the silence is restored.

Later in the day, the guilt soon starts to seep in as we realize, “Our child learned nothing from that.”

A mom and dad trying to be perfect parents for their son
Photo by Duc Anh Nguyen

But the critics won’t be silent. At least, not in the mind.

While people won’t express their criticisms, we as parents develop the ability to read facial expressions and body language. The slightest raise of an eyebrow or upturn of the nose can have our minds running, “What’s my child doing now?”, “I’m doing this wrong again, aren’t I?” The pressure to be the perfect parent becomes heavier. Critical voices get louder; and while we want to believe we know what’s best for our child, we also have to acknowledge that there are some things that might help us make parenting a little easier.

Don’t be a perfect parent. Be a compassionate one.

Parenthood is a journey that demands compassion, not perfection. Although there will be days that we’ve run out of care and thoughts to give, it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Perfection is a state that is highly dependent on the things around us. But there are so many things we cannot control. For the parents who are asking, “When will it ever be enough?”, we would like to tell you, “You will always be enough for your child. And that’s all that matters.”

Need more comfort reads as a parent?

Dear Parents, Please Allow Yourselves To Grieve
Breastfeeding Guilt: The Pressure of “Breast Is Best”
Working Parents: “It’s okay to feel burned out.”

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