I still get gooseflesh thinking about the little nine-year-old who said to me with his eyes filled with tears, “My parents expect me to do my best and I do that most of the times. But sometimes — only sometimes — I want to not do my best, because I am tired and just want to relax”.
This worried mother had called me up saying her son had problems sleeping and had asked to speak to a professional. He seemed very anxious and she’d tried to pry the troubles out of him, but he just wouldn’t open up to her.
Slowly, as I queried about his days, school, friends and what was bothering him, words came tumbling along with lots of suppressed emotions.
As a family coach I have witnessed several teenagers falling off the track because they set such high standards for themselves that just a gust of wind throws them completely off path and into a downward spiral.
As parents one of the basic values we want to inculcate in children is to always give their best. Whether they are writing an essay, sitting for a math exam, making a presentation or practising guitar, everything has to be attempted at the best level.
Throughout the impressionable years, children are bombarded by messages to give their best as nothing less is acceptable. They might also be in an environment where parents or friends might all be high achievers and living the life due to their perfectionism. So, both the messages and role models get inculcated in their beings.
In fact, today we find more and more adults suffering from the evils of pursuing the ever-evasive perfection. Mind you, these are adults who are aware that they are chasing a non-existing phenomenon and they are responsible for setting those unattainable standards. These adults as parents raise children with the same values.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in doing one’s best, it is just taking it to this stifling level by both adults and children that shouldn’t happen.
Parents, start with yourself. How would it feel if you allowed yourself to not give your best in twenty per cent of the tasks you undertook? You didn’t give your best while organising that social gathering and the food turned out so-so. But everyone still had fun. You didn’t give your best while booking your holiday and ended up in average hotels. But you still had a glorious time. You didn’t give your best while decorating your home. Yet it turned out livable and cosy. So?
Now, imagine a home with parents such as you who are more relaxed and easier to approach, parents who know that the myth of perfection only paralyses. That’s what we want for our children — to give them an environment to grow, not to feel stifled. What matters in the long run is raising them to have high standards but with the option of choosing to not pursue them all the time and in all things.
If you would like to have questions on parenting answered in person by Sunaina Vohra, register for the next Parent Meet Up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can write to email@example.com
— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to athenalifecoaching.com or call 056-1399033.