How to be the perfect parent

If there's a theme to the emails I get from fellow adoptive parents, it's how to be a good adoptive parent. The specifics may differ, but the goal is always the same. People want to know what to do to be the very best parent for their child.

All you have to do is count the number of parenting blogs to see how many parents come to the internet to find advice on this. There's been a bit of discussion on this in adoption blogland recently, about the number of adoptive parents following blogs that paint an incessantly happy picture of adoptive parenting. It doesn't surprise me at all, actually. The internet makes it possible for us to seek out the advice we want, rather than the advice we need. People are likely to gravitate to the kind that fills that need.

But no life is perfect, and I sincerely doubt if the lives of the "happy bloggers" are as problem-free as their blogs would lead you to believe. Everyone faces hard times, and the real test of parenting is how you face them. So if you're getting your parenting advice from the internet, especially from sources that paint a similar picture or offer similar advice for every problem, you need to step away pretty frequently and take the pulse of the here-and-now. Ultimately, we have to make parenting decisions on our own. If we rely too much on the advice of others, we may very well miss the solution that's best for our child.

Now that our nest is pretty much empty, I can reflect a little on my own parenting style, and if it was the best for my kids. Gosh knows when I look back at some of the things I and Third Dad did along the way, I shake my head. Some I would change, and some I wouldn't - and some remain challenges today. Even with the nest empty, I'm still learning how to be a better parent than I was, and I'll probably keep learning until the day I die.

The point that you don't have to be a perfect parent to raise solid kids. You do, however, have to give them your heart, entirely. When you do that, you'll learn - from them, an no one else - what they most need to survive and thrive in the world. Each child will tell you something else, each will demand a different kind of love. The ultimate task for parents is to figure out exactly what kind of love each of our children needs, and give it without hesitation or measure.

Even then, the title "perfect parent" is likely to allude you, because there is really no such thing. Just listen to your children, respect them and their individual needs, and be their parent, all the time and through every joy and challenge. This, more than any particular parenting style or method, should be the aspiration of everyone who wants to be the best parent they can.

Comments

Campbell said…
Great post, it's also what I believe.

I would add respect as being up there in importance too. It's something we want from our kids but is also something people forget is a two-way street and that children are as entitled to being treated with respect as adults.

Thanks for writing about this!
Cavatica said…
The biggest lesson for me in parenting was that she would teach me how to parent her. Not that I don't learn from outside resources, but even then, I am using her as a guide as to which ones I use. I did know parenting is individualized for every child and parent, but I didn't know how much they teach us on how to do it. Amazing, this journey.
suz said…
For me, the first step to being a perfect parent was realizing there is no such thing. We will fail, we will make mistakes, we will not be all that our children need us to be. That doesnt mean we should not try our best but it does mean we should be kind to ourselves and have realistic expectations.

I say this as a mother who surrendered her child to the so called perfect parents. They dont exist. We need to teach women, mothers, father, to trust themselves, to listen to their children, to their own needs, and more.

One of the biggest lessons my mother taught me was when she admitted she, as a parent, failed me. She told me she did all she could, with what she had, but realized she fell short. Oddly, her admitting that to me made her perfect. Made her human.
Kate said…
Unlike Suz I wasn't good at realizing that on my own. I've always been a perfectionist and parenting put that into hyper mode.

I have found a lot of resources to be helpful, Break Free of Parenting Pressures, has been amazing. Sometimes you just need external perspective to get yourself on track.

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