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A perfect mum VS a perfectionist mum

I have a daughter who is 17 months old. She is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and full of wonder, usually running in the face of danger and always in search of adventure. As her mum, I love her free spirit even though it is tiring to chase after her when she ventures away from the playground in search of something more. Raising her away from the land I was raised in has brought about its own set of challenges.

Within parenting circles, there are so many do’s and don’ts pertaining to what my fellow mums think I should feed my kid. Dietary regulations alone can turn you into one highly-strung mum.

When my mum came to visit from South Africa, she gave my daughter a few sweets here and there.  My initial reaction was: ‘ How could you give her so much sugar? We don’t do that.’ It felt a bit stressful to have to tell her all the rules that we have, speaking to her as if she had never raised a kid in her life. And then it dawned on me that I had turned into one of ‘those’ mums. It felt silly because I never wanted to be one of those “perfectionist” mums who get crazy if their child occasionally has salt or sugar or spice.

We spend time getting stressed, searching the internet for articles on how to raise our kids, wondering if we are doing the right thing or not, and comparing our child’s behavioral patterns to those of other kids. The truth is that the right way is not written in black and white. People parent differently. All kids are different, and that is where the beauty lies, right there in diversity. As a parent, it takes time to get to know a child well, to build a relationship and see what works for you as a family.

Having my mum visit me in Germany shed so much light on what she must have experienced with me as a child. She gave birth to me when she was only 17 years old. (Since then I’ve not spent a day in hospital except for when I gave birth. )She never completed high school, and there was no Google back then, but she did really well raising two kids as a teenage mum; which makes me wonder why my generation is losing its mindover all this parenting. My family owns a bakery and I was never denied sugar, but I did not end up being a fat kid. If anything, I enjoyed sports and a rather balanced diet without being obsessive about it.

Nowadays, I have to tell myself to chill and remind myself that my kid will turn out just fine. Parenting isn’t much fun when you analyze every little detail of how to raise little people. When we strive to become perfectionist parents, we set unrealistic expectations for our kids and ourselves, giving them the impression that human limitations are not OK. This can cause them to become too conscious and focused on their own insecurities if they fail to succeed at tasks. Perfectionist parents create children who are dissatisfied, prone to depression and eating disorders and performance-driven to the point of anxiety if they do not win. Instead, parents should feed their children with love, joyful memories and a resilient spirit, so that they can be bold and courageous andable to overcome the storms, as well as beingeager to change the world around them. Children are happiest when their parents are too.

Author: Sarona Wolter

Editor: Anne Thomas

 

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Date

01.07.2017 | 15:05

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