I do a lot of self reflecting now that I’m a Mother. I see myself every day, doing things exactly the way my Dad did. Good and bad. And then I see myself doing things exactly the way my Mom did. Always bad.
I had an excellent Father. I know many of us think that our Dads are the best. It’s a really wonderful feeling. Not all of us are blessed with the gift of having a Dad or even a father figure for that matter. I know I was a lucky one.
My Father played the role of Father and mother for years of my life. My parents divorced when I was a preteen which was a huge blessing. I’ll get into that another day.
My Dad bought me a series of books. They were called the Value Tales series. Each book highlighted a different value. The value of believing in yourself, the value of truth and trust, the value of respect, the value of caring, the value of determination, the value of kindness…I could go on and on. These are wonderful books written in 1975 that changed my life forever. I am not sure why I have not started buying these for my son but writing about them now reminding me to.
Anyway, besides values he made a great effort to teach me about morals. We all know how that went. My Dad always taught me to believe in myself and my Dad always taught me that I could do better. I am more capable. Well, there is a fine line between teaching your children they can do better and that they are more capable, then turning them into unhappy, unsatisfied, self hating adult perfectionists.
I always waited for my Dad to tell me I did a great job, however that “great job” always came with a “however”. I never quite felt satisfied or that I ever pleased my Dad totally. I spent my entire life trying to do so and I don’t think I ever succeeded. And now he’s gone.
Now that he is gone I do this to myself. I am never satisfied. The only place in my life that this serves me well, is in my career. Because I am a sales woman and I’m never satisfied, I never stop selling and I always want to sell bigger and better, make more money, get more recognition. I am the best. But I can be better.
I make great money. I am a one percenter. I always told myself if I could only get here. Well I’m here, and it’s still not enough. I have a job of my dreams and I wrestle with it, and how I have not achieved what I wanted to by now. I am very hard on myself. I am always at this constant state of unrest. Work, home, life, kids…
I start to see me do this to my son. The fact that I am conscious of it, I am very grateful. I have stopped it. I see him constantly trying to please me. Obsessively. I do not want him living a life like mine. When he does a great job, I don’t tell him he could’ve done it better. I tell him he did a great job. Period. When he gets a 99 I don’t ask him why wasn’t it 100. When he draws me a picture, I don’t show him how he drew outside of the lines, I thank him.
I am doing my best to teach him that he is great at who he is, and what he does, and encourage him to challenge himself and be the best he can be. I however never let him feel that I personally am not satisfied.
Just be careful how hard you push these little people. You don’t want them to become adults and feel very little self worth even though they are really great people and great at what they do.
Give them hugs and encouragement and don’t be like my mother telling them they should feel ridiculous for feeling inferior or insecure. Hug them and lift them up and tell him it’s OK. Take that moment to teach them something, not make them feel stupid for not doing better or being “perfect”.