My husband James is a great dad, but not a perfect dad. When
he is focusing on the kids, he is giving them 100% of his attention. This is
more than I can say for myself a lot of the time. I am that chronic
multi-tasking mother who is undoubtedly thinking, “What’s for dinner?” while
reading a story to one of her kids. James, on the other hand, is a one thing at
a time kind of guy. This is a great attribute, but can also be a huge pain! If
he is reading his book, focusing 100% of his attention on that, the kids can be
screaming “DAD!” at the top of their lungs and he still won’t hear them. That’s
what he’s like. It can be extremely frustrating when you are attempting to
capture his attention. However, when his attention is focused on you, it’s the
most wonderful feeling in the world. Like I said, he’s a great dad, not a
I believe it is really the best a parent can hope for – to
be great, without being perfect. Many of us try so hard to be perfect, we
forget about being great. What is perfect, anyway? We each define it differently.
But can we agree on great? Great is when your kids love and adore you even
though they know that sometimes you will frustrate the heck out of them for one
reason or another. Great is when they respect you even though they do not
always listen to you or do what they are told. Great is a big picture quality
that has them leaving home loving you and wanting to return every once in
awhile to see you.
Perfect, on the other hand, is an elusive ideal that can
never be attained because we are perfect already just the way God made us. We
may have forgotten that somewhere along the way, usually in childhood, when
someone (possibly even a parent) said or did something that made us feel unworthy
or without value. The goal of perfect parenting creates unrealistic pressure
that does not allow us to compassionately deal with our mistakes. Mistakes, as
we all know, are inevitable. But they are also necessary for growth. All of
life is a journey of learning. Through that learning, we grow as people. With
that learning, we become wise. Mistakes are par for the course. When we expect
perfection from ourselves, we are also prone to a level of self-criticism that
hinders the very growth that will indeed make us wise.
My kids adore their dad because they know when they do have
their dad’s attention they will have all of it. Wow, do they love that! When I
am focusing on being perfect, instead of being great, I have to ask myself who
it is I am trying to be perfect for? Myself, my kids, their teachers, my peers,
society are all examples of people and institutions that might each have a
different definition of “perfect.” That list could go on and on. To attempt to
achieve perfection is to go after a constantly moving target.
Time for a focus shift. How about I focus my attention on
being great instead of perfect? I’m going to try that on for size today.