A Vacation from Perfectionism
Right now Orison, Morrow, and I are on vacation! We’ve been visiting my parents in Erie, PA and then their lake cottage in Chautauqua, NY. Abraham was here for the long weekend, but is now back to life (reality) in Minneapolis.
Being alone with the kids means I have lots of parenting choices to make. Normally, my default parenting style is to be on the strict side. I expect my kids to listen to the direct instructions I give them. When they don’t, there’s a consequence of some kind.
And in my normal life, I’m ashamed to admit, I say “no” a lot more than is necessary. I say no to things that are going to inconvenience me or make my life more difficult in the short term to save myself some work. It’s laziness, really. It doesn’t serve my children when I act that way.
I also struggle with perfectionism. I want life to be “just so” and when my plans are derailed, I act out in anger and frustration toward the people I feel are blocking my “perfect” path. Sound contradictory? Um, yeah.
But on this vacation, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be as permissive as possible.
You want to go swimming? Sure.
You want to ride your bike for the 90th time today? Sounds great!
You want to ride on the tractor? I’d love to take you.
Bedtime at 9pm? No problem.
You want a piece of candy? (Whoa, this is really not typical me) Pick 2!
I suppose when many of the typical life demands are removed, I have more freedom to say yes. I’m not as worried about meeting a timetable, I’m not as easily frustrated, and I stop seeing my kids’ enjoyment as an obstacle to my happiness. Instead, they start to be symbiotic—when I’m making my kids happy, they’re happier, and then I’m happier.
Of course the fundamental rules of life still apply:
Respect your parents.
Listen and obey when you’re told what to do.
Not only am I less stressed when I take the demands for perfection off myself and my kids, my kids are actually more obedient when it’s time to obey.
I know that God is helping me to love my children more thoroughly, not seeing them as small inconveniences. Left to myself, I’m selfish, mean, restrictive (for no good reason), lazy… the list could go on and on. But for this little stretch of vacation, I’m really hoping to learn to enjoy my kids more. Hopefully it’ll transfer back to my real life.
Entry filed under: Family.