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Therapist asks people to throw the idea of 'perfect parenting' out the window and embrace the mess

The therapist explains how making mistakes in front of children is better than pretending to be 'perfect.'

Therapist asks people to throw the idea of 'perfect parenting' out the window and embrace the mess
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @yourtango

Every parent wants to give the best upbringing to their children. For many, that entails being "perfect" in everything, at least in front of their children. Trauma therapist Yolanda Renteria disagrees with this notion. She believes that such methods do more harm than good for the children. It creates a relationship where children cannot be vulnerable with their parents, which proves to be an issue both in childhood and adulthood. Renteria goes into detail about this assertion in her interview on the Open Relationships: Transforming Together podcast with Andrea Miller. The interview delved deep into the identity troubles children usually face and how parents can support them. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Emma Bauso
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Emma Bauso

The conversation about "perfect parents" came when the hosts and guests were discussing how parents attempt to heal their own wounds through their children. In doing so, they block children from their experiences, where they get hurt and learn things from that. Joanna Schroeder, the co-host, chimed in with her personal story of how, in her parenting, she ensured that her children did not face situations that could make them feel stupid, as it was something she had to deal with because of her undiagnosed ADHD. "I got too involved in making sure that my children never failed, never struggled," she shared. Though the care is justified and a product of experiences, Renteria believes that parents should be careful of how much they "project" their burden on their children.

Most parents enter this pattern and find breaking it difficult because, in their heads, they are "protecting." While protecting children, parents often fail to build a strong character in them to face difficult situations in adulthood. Renteria's solution is that parents must stop seeing things in "black" and "white." They must give up this notion that they can be "perfect parents." Even if their intentions are good, they should be willing to see the other side of the coin. In her opinion, it is OK to be messy rather than create a wrong image in front of the children, which the latter carry forward their entire lives. Schroeder agreed with this opinion and shared that people "go into therapy because of perfect parents."

Image Source: TikTok/@yourtango
Image Source: TikTok | @yourtango

Miller elucidated that over-protectiveness and striving for perfection by parents leads to "learned helplessness" in children. In a situation where "everything is done for you," children have no scope of understanding how to function when they do not feel aligned with their circumstances. It also impacts the relationship between parents and children, according to Renteria, as it closes off the line of communication. The therapist explained, "One of the best things that you can do as a parent is accept that you are messing up - and I will tell you why. When your kids are adults, if you try to be the perfect parent, your kids won't be able to come up to you to tell you how you messed up because they are too afraid of hurting your're going to be defensive and you're not going to accept that because you have tried your best."

Image Source: TikTok/@yourtango
Image Source: TikTok | @yourtango

Moreover, this practice of striving for perfection also exhausts parents. Therefore, it becomes difficult for them to accept when children do not follow the path they have laid out. It seems like a breach of trust. The healthier way of parenting is by being human and making mistakes even in front of the children. Renteria follows this even in her own life. She added, "One of the things I practice is telling my kid how I'm messing up. Like, I am noticing right now that I did this - I'm sorry. And it's not like a constant apology, but the awareness that I am human, that I am making mistakes, but that I'm trying because I care." In this scenario, not only the mental health of both parties are prioritized, but there is also an openness in the bond that sustains till adulthood. Children will be more willing to come with their problems to parents without any burden of guilt-tripping.


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