Let’s talk for a moment about the ever elusive “perfect parent.” I think that many of us (especially we adoptive parents) feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to be mistake free parents, perfect parents, super parents with a capital S on our shirts and a red cape flowing behind us!
It doesn’t surprise me that so many adoptive parents feel this way.
I think that most every parent wants to be a good parent, and it makes even more sense that after being interviewed, home studied, finger printed, and signed sealed and delivered as appropriate adoptive parents we would feel a little extra pressure.
It makes sense that we might look at other parents and assume that they could be doing a better job than we are, that they may know more than us, that they might be more “entitled to the title” than we are! With those feelings comes a lot of pressure to be perfect, and a lot of guilt that we are not perfect.
Well –I would like to take a second to depedestal and redefine this perfect parent.
First I will start by admitting whole heartedly that I am NOT a perfect parent
In case you need evidence that I am not perfect in order to soak in the intent of this blog I offer you the following confession.
Recently I was working at a fevered pace. I had a presentation deadline to meet and my husband was also working late. I was juggling the evening routine without reinforcements and was trying to work at the same time. The phone rings. I’m annoyed. Why is my 14 year old being so lazy as to call me from her bedroom instead of coming down to my office to ask me what she wants? “Hello!” I snap in obvious frustration. “What do you need?”
14 year old: “Um Mom—where are you?”
Me: “What do you mean where am I? I’m down in my office. Come down here if you want me.
14 year old: “Um Mom—I’m not upstairs. I’m at my violin lesson and you’re not here to pick me up.”
The supermom cape fell silently to the floor as I jumped out of my chair and into my car. My face took on the red color of the cape immediately and I nearly hyperventilated as I drove the few blocks to pick her up.
Thankfully, since this was the first time in her 14 years that I had forgotten where she was, she jumped in the car amused by my mistake but otherwise unaffected. I did not escape the situation quite so unscathed. It jolted me into reality. I was off course.
Now that I’m properly depedestaled. Let’s redefine.
The perfect parent only exists in theory anyway. So why not redefine? If I could redefine the perfect parent I would say that it is a parent who clearly has a plan and an ideal in mind and is daily journeying towards that ideal. Yes they make mistakes, yes they fall off the intended path sometimes, but because they have a parenting plan and a clear focus they are able to get back on board and continue journeying towards the goal. The most important sentence in my confession is the last one. I was off course. I knew it, and I knew what to do about it.
When my husband arrived home that night and all the kids were in bed I told him my story. He was mildly horrified, somewhat amused, and guilty himself as he thought of how his hectic schedule had impacted that situation as well. We began our parent planning session. We talked about where we were off path, what we could do to fix it and then took time to talk about each of our children individually and what they needed (short term and long term). It didn’t take long. I think we talked for about 30 minutes but it set us back on track.
As Katie mentioned in her recent blog I have long been a promoter of parent plans. I think they are essential for all parents but especially for parents of kids that have had a less than optimal start in life. I also think that it is hard for most parents to get started in making a plan. If you’re curious about parent planning but don’t know where to start watch the blog in the coming weeks for more posts on this topic.
And in the meantime, remember that your parental confidence is key to your child’s security. So redefine your perfect parent in realistic terms and reclaim your cape!
Tags: adoption, Adoptive Parenting, bond, bonding, caregiving, close proximity parenting, general parenting, international adoption, new adoptive parents, parent planning, perfect parent, positive parenting, pull close parenting, super parent