And, chances are, they are also giving their kids the ‘perfect’ childhood. One where their kids don’t have to worry about a thing. But, is this realistic? Aside from the pressure that this parent is under to perform so well, day in day out, is ‘perfect’ parenting actually doing their kids any good?
Take, for example, a family where the kids don’t have to help around the house. Fast forward fifteen or twenty years when these kids have flown the nest and get their own place. What will their life be like then? Will they be popping back to their parents so mum and dad can do their laundry, or will they stand on their own two feet and know how to operate the washing machine? I know what I’d prefer!
It's the same with homework. We all know that kid in your child’s class who turns up to school come science project day with an elaborate model and detailed narrative of the inner workings of a volcano, in suspiciously adult handwriting. It is fine to help your kids, of course, but it is not fine to do their homework for them. What will they learn if you do? Guide them, yes. Don’t do the entire project for them. So what if they make mistakes? That’s how they learn, after all. If your kid can’t deal with making mistakes now, adult life is going to be a bit of a shock.
And if someone else tells your child off for their bad behaviour, so what? As long as it is done fairly and with good reason, let them. My friends and I are comfortable with pulling each other’s children up on their behaviour if it is necessary and if their parent isn’t around to do so. Kids hearing ‘no’ from other people is a good thing. It helps to set the foundation for acceptable social behaviour outside of the home.
At school, too, let them sort their own battles wherever you can. Bullying aside, little disagreements happen all the time. If you always step in and sort their problems for them, how will they learn to stand up for themselves? You can’t be there all the time. It is important for them to build resilience and be able to handle tricky situations. Most schools have systems to help children learn how to handle unfavourable behaviour by their peers. For example, tell them to stop, walk away, and then tell a teacher if these steps don’t work. Practising this at home can work wonders to building your child’s confidence.
Aside from the unrealistic demands that trying to be a perfect parent puts on you, it’s not doing your kids any favours either. If you want resilient, confident kids, perhaps it is time to cut the apron strings a little.
Perfect parents don’t really exist, just as perfect kids don’t, and it just makes the rest of us feel a little bit rubbish – let’s be honest with each other and work together. This parenting malarkey is tough enough!
For more advice on building your child’s self-confidence, read our article here.