The Myth of Perfect Parenting and the Real Work of Parenthood

As I’ve been putting together my series on The Myth of Perfect Parenting, I realized this piece from a year ago fits right in with the message, so I wanted to repost it here.  (I now have four boys instead of three, so you can just imagine the chaos of our next family picture!)

I just taught my first session of training classes based on my ebook, Parenting with Positive Guidance: Building Discipline from the Inside Out.  I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions we had and hope the group is enjoying it as well.

I like to start out these types of classes by introducing my family.  I start with the picture above.  A sweet shot we have hanging in our entry.  Then I show the shot that came just before or just after:

And then, perhaps one of my favorite shots:

I want people to know, not just that I have three little boys, but that my three little boys are “normal kids”.  As I wrote in the ebook:

“My own kids, and those I work with, throw tantrums, tackle playmates, and even – if you can believe it – shout at me now and then about how much they don’t like me anymore. In other words, they’re normal kids…..

Raising good kids is hard work.    Don’t let anyone try to tell you that you must be doing something wrong just because it’s hard.”

I think it’s too easy to look at others and see that one best snapshot, and think that somehow, we’re the only parent who hasn’t been able to pull it together.  That our toddler is the only one throwing tantrums and our school-age kids are the only ones fighting with each other.  In reality, we all have our fair share of great moments and struggles through parenthood.  We’re each just trying to do our best to figure it out as we go along.

Our kids will lose control and make mistakes, because they’re kids and it’s part of the learning process.  We try to have patience and gently encourage them, guide them, and help them build discipline.

Likewise, we each have our days, when we lose our patience and make mistakes, because we’re learning too.  We need to give ourselves the same grace, patience, and room to grow.

We have to stop comparing our worst days to everyone else’s best moments.

Parenting is hard work.  But at the same time it is full of beautiful, ordinary moments, as author Katrina Kenison writes in her book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day.  She reads a beautiful excerpt here (shared via Facebook by the amazing Janet Lansbury).  If you want to reframe the way you look at the hard work of parenting, this is the clip to watch.

So start fresh today.  Take some time to rewrite your parenting script.   Stop comparing yourself to an unrealistic standard.   As Tsh Oxenreider at Simple Mom says, give yourself heaps of graceSlow down and enjoy the heart-rending and heart-melting, difficult and delightful, mundane and magical, exasperating and exalting work of parenthood.

Read more in The Myth of Perfect Parenting series.  It all starts here.



Filed under Child Development & DAP, Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

5 Responses to The Myth of Perfect Parenting and the Real Work of Parenthood

  1. I love this article, expecially the line: “We have to stop comparing our worst moments with everyone else’s best moments.” I have been doing a lot of writing about this lately, some of it on

  2. Loved this post! And as a photographer… I could not relate more to string of photos :)

  3. Comparing will always make you unhappy (unless you choose losers to compare with :) Compare to learn, yes, compare to motivate, yes, but don’t compare to make yourself happy. True of all things, not only the dysfunctions of family.

  4. Barbaral

    Katie, thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement to all of those parents “in the trenches”.
    Our 5 sons are now ages 20-27 so I have been there. As I look back, I can hear myself screaming amid the chaos and wish I hadn’t. But now, I can also sit back and say I did the BEST I could because I am not perfect and sometimes exhaustion won out over common sense. As a preschool teacher, I also have to say the BOYS are simply different than GIRLS as far as overall activity . BOYS have to be moving , jumping , running , throwing and when allowed using motorized anything!! If it “goes” their curiosity to be a part of it seems much stronger than girls. I know this is a generalization but in a home of only boys we saw that played out over and over. As we approach the grandparenting years, it is my hope that I will be a calm, encouraging and fun grandma all of the time that I spend with the little ones .
    PS Our sons are fine young men who are best of friends and we are constantly complimented by others on the fact that they are all kind, helpful , friendly and considerate. The important things you try to teach your child, by your own example, will SHINE THROUGH.

  5. Pingback: A Week of Activities [plus!] Yarn Color Wheel on hands on : as we grow

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