An Imperfect Role Model

Last updated on November 17th, 2012 at 05:27 pm

As a mother, I used to think I had to set the perfect example, especially since I have two daughters. I had to work hard. I had to eat the healthiest foods. I had to dress well. I always had to arrive on time. I had to be nice. I could never tell a lie. I had to donate money to anyone who ever asked. And I could never mutter a bad word, even during life’s most frustrating moments.

Striving for perfection, however, was exhausting. It was also impossible to achieve. Take the time my daughter Annie and I got rear ended by a reckless driver last year on our way home from a piano lesson. A few choice words slipped out of my mouth that day. Annie quickly learned that her mom was hardly “perfect” and never would be.

And that, I decided, is okay.

Even the most perfect among us are hardly perfect. We get angry. We get grumpy. We snap. We judge. Simply put, we don’t always do what’s considered the right thing. Most of the time, however, we’re just decent people, trying to do the best we can. I call it being human.

Letting my daughters see my imperfections gives them — and me — room to breathe and allows them be the imperfect people they are. It frees them up to relax a little when they mess up. It also teaches them to forgive others when they are imperfect and to move on with the bigger picture in mind.

Does that mean there are things I’ve done that I don’t regret? Absolutely not. Does it mean I think it’s okay to be rude, inconsiderate and crass? Not at all. What it does mean is that I don’t pressure myself to always do the right thing, even when I know my kids are watching me.

Freeing myself from the strict standards of perfectionism allows me to relax and teaches my kids the best lesson of all: no one is perfect.

And that’s perfectly fine by me.



About the Author

Winnie Yu is a freelance writer who frequently writes about health and nutrition. Her work has appeared in numerous national publications (Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention, VIVMag, Diabetic Living, WebMD and more), and she has written seven books, including The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding, What to Eat for What Ails You and The Everything Health Guide to Thyroid Disease. She lives in New York City and has two daughters.

Comments

3 Responses to “An Imperfect Role Model”

  1. Perfection is a horrid affliction to hoist onto any child. You are absolutely right, it is far better to be imperfect and show your children how to act when things don’t go wrong (they fail, they are hurt, they are angry, etc) than to set an impossible expectation. Far better to say ‘I really messed up, what can I do better next time’ than ‘I never mess up’.

  2. When my first child was born I did EVERYTHING right. Too right. I was annoying my friends. By baby number two I was back to my old mistake making self and I must say, life is good!

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