Perfection Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be
"But that's not fair!" This is a statement you hear quite often from kids, especially from kids 4-7 years old. And sometimes from kids even older than that. I can remember growing up, it was just myself and my sister. We were about 2 years apart in age and she and I were almost always evenly rewarded. At Christmas, for example, I would get a purple bean bag, my sister would get a pink one. My parents went out of their way "to make things fair" or "to make things perfect".
It got to the point where we would deliberately pick the Christmas presents from under the tree that were wrapped the same and open them at the same time so we didn't spoil the surprise for each other. Because if my sister opened a pink microphone, I was pretty sure I was getting the same thing just in purple. Although I know for a fact that they meant well and had the best intentions, I think they actually were teaching us the wrong lesson. Because it wasn't long before we found out the truth.
Life isn't perfect. And life isn't always "fair". And that can be tough to deal with as an adult if you didn't have any experiences with it as a child.
I think all parents want to make things fair for their kids. They want their children to have the "perfect" childhood. They want their kids to be happy and it's very logical to think that if things are perfect you will be happy.
But it's a trap. Perfection isn't as perfect as you think it is. Our job as parents is to teach our kids how to make it in this world, right? So we need to teach them how to cope with the things that life throws at them. Life isn't perfect. And it isn't predictable. In fact, the only thing that is predictable about life is that it's going to change.
So as parents, we need to let our kids experience life, in its truest form, with all its unfairness, while they are still at home under our protective wings. But in order to protect them, instead of making life perfect and fair for the while they are young, we need to let them experience the unfairness and the imperfection of life - and teach them how to cope with that.
We need to teach our kids that things are going to go wrong in life. We need to teach kids that sometimes things won't be fair. We need to help them see that there will be bad hair days, get in trouble for something you didn't do, or lose your favorite hat, get a bad grade, or have your feelings hurt.
We need to use those opportunities not to "fix" things for them or shield them from the pain or disappointment, but to teach them how to handle those emotions appropriately and soldier on anyway. If you think back over your own life, you will find that you often learned much more from dealing with imperfection and unfairness than you did from perfection.
So the next time your child utters the words "but it's not fair!", calmly respond "you're right, but life isn't fair. But I know YOU can overcome it and it will help you grow."
Displaying confidence in your child that they can overcome whatever life may throw at them will go a lot farther. Knowing you have confidence in them will build their self-esteem and make them feel worthy of the challenge ahead. And drawing upon their own confidence and self-esteem will get them much further in life than anything you as a parent can "fix" for them.
Written by Meg Stewart
(c) Empowering the Youth of Today, 2016