During my years as an administrator, learning specialist and student advocate, I have worked with many families, often through times of stress, confusion and frustration. Most of the parents with whom I have worked are bright, well-educated and successful. They appear composed, competent, capable and have very high expectations for themselves as parents as well as professionals.
Being a parent is, in many ways, a balancing act. We want successful professional lives, but not at the expense of time with our families. The pervasiveness of technology is both a blessing and a distraction. Because more families now have two working parents whose schedules often conflict, family “down time” is more elusive. The cost of living has exploded, making it difficult for many parents who want to give their children every advantage. For parents who have decided to place their careers on hold to spend more time at home, many miss the predictability of the work place and the comfort of a pay check.
We want to give our children freedom, but worry about letting them out of our sight. We want our children to achieve academically, but don’t want to place them under undue pressure. We want them to be respectful and hard-working, but we don’t always have the time or mental energy to instruct and discipline them. Parents feel pulled in many directions simultaneously – work, children, family – and place a great deal of stress on themselves. If only it were possible to know if we’re “doing it right.”
Wouldn’t it be great to receive some objective feedback? I’ve often wished we could get parent report cards that would applaud our efforts and praise our successes while pointing out the areas in need of improvement. But we don’t receive grades or annual reviews, and have no objective measures to assess our parenting performance. So how do we, as parents, know if we’re doing it right? The answer: Get some perspective!
There is no such thing as perfect parenting. In his book, Parenting Without Fear: Letting Go of Worry and Focusing on What Really Matters, Dr. Donahue shares his experiences working with parents and helping them prioritize their lives. I think you will appreciate this book for all it teaches us about letting go of perfection, reminding us to stay focused on the things that are truly important.