Mistakes. I make them all the time. In the parenting area especially.
Example 1: My 7 year old daughter has to do a timed addition test every night. She usually gets to the end of the page with plenty of time left. The other night, for some reason she had four problems left when the timer went off. She cried. And cried.
I am an oldest child, too. I know what it’s like to be driven. And be a people-pleaser. And be expected to do everything right.
I always thought I’d try hard not to pressure my kids too much. I mean, I believe in high expectations for sure. But I don’t believe that kids should be (or can be) perfect.
So my initial thought was to come down hard on her and tell her to quit pouting. But I decided to try something else. I pulled my daughter into my lap and told her: “You don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. You are wonderful and smart and I am proud of you no matter how many problems you get or don’t get.”
She finally settled down, but I’ve reminded her several times that you don’t have to be perfect.
Example 2: My almost 5 year old son has recently taken a interest in digital games. He will go from the iPhone to the iPod touch to the iPad to a computer if we let him. I’ve been thinking that I need to start limiting his screen time (we already limit TV time).
The problem: I’ve shared this with a few other moms in front of my son. You know how moms are – we get together and talk about our kids. I never meant to hurt his feelings.
But the other day he asked if he could play on my iPhone. Then he said, “I won’t go from the iPhone to the iPad to the computer, I promise!” Uh-oh. He knows I’ve been talking about him. I asked, “Did Mommy hurt your feelings when I said that to my friend?” He nodded yes. Crap. “I’m sorry, Ephraim. I won’t do that again. I’m not mad at you.” And I handed him my phone.