April 27, 2020 by Dymphna

Parents! Don’t try to be perfect

We want to be the best parents we can be, but are we putting too much pressure on ourselves?

Right now we’re applauding for our frontline healthcare workers.

When this is over, and our kids go back to school, we’ll be applauding our teachers.

With kids across the country staying home, I think we’re getting a welcome lesson in just how important our teachers are, and what a tough job teaching can be.

That’s a good thing.

But I’m also seeing a lot of parents putting a lot of pressure on themselves.

Not only do they feel they have to navigate the trials of social-distancing with ease and grace, offering a role model of staunch and gentle determination, they also feel like they’ve got to be inspiring a thirst for knowledge in their children, in a caring and fun-loving way, like some cross between Mark Wahlberg and Mary Poppins.

…all while crammed into a two-bedroom apartment, as they both try to hold down their day jobs.


Talk about pressure.

My advice would be, don’t go for perfect. Don’t go for Mary Poppins. This is a crisis. We’ve just got to get through it the best we can.

Now, as I’ve written a few times, I’m not a huge fan of “perfect”. Clinging to perfect, and an unwillingness to try anything unless you know you can be perfect at it, can be a block to action.

Action is everything. Your wealth, your success, your happiness – all these things come once action sets the balls in motion.

And if gearing up for action means disengaging your commitment to perfection, then so be it.

And generally, people are pretty receptive to this message. People get it. They’re willing to go with it.

Except, of course, when it comes to the kids.

This is one area where we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We want to be perfect parents. We want to give our kids the perfect start in life.

Our kids are going to have enough on their plate as it is. Uncertain employment futures, global warming, killer-death robots etc. The future is scary. The last thing our kids need is a clumsy parent saddling them with baggage.

I see this pressure playing out across the community even in the best of times. But now – now that we’ve become solely responsible for our kids education as well – the pressure is enormous.

What I would say is, go easy on yourself Australia.

And as hard as its going to be to hear, it’s ok to leave your kids with wounds.


I know that might sound psychotic, but think about it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do your best or, heaven forbid, deliberately saddle your kids with baggage.

But you’re not going to be the perfect parent. Just as your parents weren’t perfect either.

It’s just a part of life – broken bones, scrapes on the knees, baggage from your upbringing.

I think it’s just impossible (and maybe a little bit arrogant) to think that you even can be the perfect parent.

You kids are going to come out of this with wounds.

I hate to break it to you, but that’s just how it is.

And so really what you should be asking yourself is not how do I keep my kids wrapped up in cotton wool.

It should be, “how do I teach my kids to be able to reflect on themselves, and inquire into their drives and motivations?”

“How do I teach them to take responsibility for their life, and not blame others for their setbacks?”

And “how do I teach them to use their wounds to develop strong levels of compassion and empathy?”

Our wounds define us. Our wounds connect us.

So do the best you can. Absolutely. Give them all the love you can muster.

But don’t beat yourself up for not being ‘perfect’.

There’s enough going on as it is.