“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”*
Frankly, pretty much everything we do, we start out doing badly. I suppose there are some folks who pick up a musical instrument, let’s say, and it’s like they’ve played it all their lives. Or, a person who travels abroad and effortlessly communicates in a language they’ve never heard before. But, those folks are definitely the exception, not the rule. Most of us start out feeling a passion for a thing, and that passion gets us through the rough times in the beginning until we gain more and more proficiency and expertise.
Parenting is a lot like that. (Well, everything is a lot like that, but I’m not here to talk about everything.) There are a couple of things to consider about this:
First, we just don’t start out being experts at things. We start out as novices and we work our way up, gaining expertise as we go along. We learn by trial and lots of error and some successes and more error. And, more successes! We bumble along, getting some things right, stepping on toes, bumping into walls, and learning what to do and, maybe more importantly, what not to do. Sometimes, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again because we harbor some beliefs that we don’t even know we have. Sometimes, we blunder into a better way of doing things by mistake (a “happy accident”). Sometimes, we get a profound insight that comes from who-knows-where, like a bouquet of flowers from a secret admirer, and that leads up to a better way of doing things.
The point is that it is worthwhile to start out blundering and making mistakes, if you have a passion for something. That’s one of the best ways we learn, in fact, and if we can be gentle with ourselves as we go through that sometimes very painful process, we stand to gain quite a bit.
Second, our kids benefit greatly from watching us fumble and screw up at first and then get it right eventually, being gentle with ourselves in the process. When we are transparent about our learning processes, our kids see that it’s OK not to be perfect, that there is a benefit to getting things wrong, being compassionate with ourselves, then adjusting, and eventually getting it right. Or, stumbling onto an even better way of doing something that could only have been discovered by getting it wrong in the first place.
And, in your parenting journey, you are ~ let’s face it ~ bound to screw up. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a parent who does not screw up, who does not say something she wishes she had never said, a parent who hasn’t “lost it” in the heat of the moment, a parent who hasn’t made a lousy assumption and berated his child based on bad information. Among the many “rewards” for these experiences, painful as they can be, is humility. And humor! Well, that’s not bad! There is an art to screwing up. And, a crucial part of that is taking responsibility for our screw-ups and making amends where indicated and appropriate.
I believe that we are here, not to be perfect (a destination), but to learn and improve (the journey). And, if we start out being perfect, well, how are we ever going to get better?
So, when things go badly and you’re beating yourself up over some embarrassing or frustrating mess-up, remember:
- Perfection is not the goal; learning is.
- Your kids are watching you, and they actually benefit from seeing you bumble around and readjust, but…
- Your kids also benefit from seeing you being compassionate with yourself.
- You benefit from being compassionate with yourself, too.
- Your kids also benefit from seeing you take full responsibility for your errors and foibles, including apologizing and righting any wrongs, if you can.
- Humor nearly always saves the day!
- Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly at first. And, peaceful parenting is DEFINITELY worth doing. Trust me on that one!
I would love to hear your thoughts about this whisper-du-jour, if you have any questions about it or what it brings up for you. You can reply here or on Facebook.
♥ ♥ ♥
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Thank you so much for reading!
Be well and be kind,
Marji, known by some (or, at least by one) as the “Peaceful Badass”
*Determining the origins of this wisdom is proving a little tricky. Some folks say it was Dick Karpinski’s gem, others point to G.K. Chesterson, and there may be others, as well. If you know who originally said this, by all means, please let me know. Thank you!