A Caution for Perfectionist Parents

No Child is Perfect: To parents who tend to be perfectionists, I must add the warning: please do not expect perfection from your children. Machines may perform perfectly, at least if everything is in operating order, but your child is not a machine. He or she is human, filled with potential and pitfalls. It is the task of the parent to help the child avoid the pitfalls in an effort to reach his or her potential. We do this best not by demanding perfection, but by encouraging effort and making corrections when needed.

What Perfectionist Parents Can Do: Lending courage to try again is far more productive than saying, “Well, you failed again. Why don’t you just quit?” or “Let me do it for you.” The “let me do it for you” philosophy of parenting produces fearful, passive, nonproductive children. When parents “’take charge,” they stifle the child’s initiative to learn. Remember, our task as a parent is not to get the job done; our task is to whet the appetite of our children so that they will be highly motivated to experience the joy of learning and become productive adults.

If the child tends to be easily discouraged in his efforts and seems to be overly sensitive to criticism, parents may wish to expose him to the biographies of people like Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, and George Washington Carver who stand for monuments of what can be accomplished through failure. Failure is our friend, not our enemy. Every failure teaches us another way not to do it. With new insight, we come closer to the truth. Through such biographies, children’s perception of failure may be turned in a positive direction.



Taken with permission from The Family You’ve Always Wanted, by Dr. Gary Chapman.