The Myth of the Perfect Parent

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • The new year is upon us, and so is the pressure to set new goals and expectations, often referred to as "New Year's Resolutions." One of the toughest of these resolutions is to be the perfect parent.


    You know, the parent who is much more responsible than the mom who, if she is too dominant with her child's illness, then she is overbearing? Or the father who, if too lackadaisical with the medical treatment, is blamed for parental deprivation? The perfect parent who clucks her tongue and says, "If those other parents just followed their instincts, they'd be able to figure it all out, and have a wonderful breakfast prepared for everyone in the house first thing in the morning!"

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    People may say those things, but it's a safe bet that they aren't perfect themselves. Face it, the perfect parent does not exist, nor has he or she ever existed. If these parental fantasies escape into the real world, they can create unreasonable expectations for all of us. When you add to the mix a child with a chronic illness, such as acid reflux, the myth of the perfect parent becomes even more unrealistic. No child can be expected to always give us legitimate or realistic needs, especially when they do not feel well, and no parent can be expected to meet all those needs - real or imagined, legitimate or unreasonable.


    So this year, I plan to move beyond the myth of perfect parenting, and follow the advice of theology professor and author, Henri Nouwen. He suggests that we might all benefit from considering our relationship with our children in terms of hospitality. He recommends we all see our children as our most important guests, who enter our homes, ask for careful attention, stay for awhile and then leave to follow their own way.


    In 2008, I hope your resolutions will have nothing to do with trying to achieve the unattainable status of the perfect parent. Instead, I hope you will continue to be a good host so that your most precious guests can grow and reveal their most unique gifts before they leave.


    Find more information on healthy resolutions for acid reflux parents:

    New Year's Resolution for Reflux Moms

Published On: January 03, 2008