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Episode 37: Accepting Imperfection and Learning to Apologize

Studies show that good parenting and good relationships don't come from being perfect. They come from repairing when we mess up. Today, we're talking about apologizing to our kids and accepting our own imperfection.

[00:00:00] Hi, friends, let's talk about the quest for perfection today. I think a lot of us recognize, like intellectually, that perfection is something we will never accomplish, but we probably still feel guilty for not being able to do everything right.

[00:00:21] And I want to talk to you about how I have come to understand what real acceptance is and how to really, truly stop feeling like I need to be perfect.

[00:00:39] And for me, the big thing that I always wanted to do perfectly was parenthood. I really care about my daughter, and I really wanted everything to be right about her childhood so that she would grow up and, you know, be OK. And also so that we could have the kind of relationship that I have with my mom, which is like . . . she is *so* close to me. I love her so much. I just want that for my daughter.

[00:01:11] I thought the only way to do that was to do everything right, because my view of my mom was that she did everything right. Which is funny because when I talk to her, she's like, "oh my God, I messed up so many things." And I'm like, "no, you're the perfect mom. What are you talking about?" So I don't know. I had a really great mom in my childhood and I wanted that for my daughter, too.

[00:01:41] But one of the things that my mom does really well and one of the things that I have learned to do as well (mostly from reading a lot and studying a lot about what it takes to be a good parent) is recognizing when we make mistakes and apologizing for them. That is something that came naturally to my mother, and Brene Brown has a whole book about imperfect parenting.

[00:02:09] And it's really a freeing concept. Basically, studies show that good parenting and good relationships don't come from perfect. They come from repairing when we mess up.

[00:02:27] That can look like: OK, I can't stop yelling at my kids because they're infuriating and no one will put their shoes on. But I'm going to apologize for the fact that I yelled at them and let them know that this is something that I'm working on and trying to be better about. They learn from our example how to apologize and they learn from our example that they're not expected to do everything right.

[00:02:56] If we allow ourselves grace, then we allow them to give themselves grace. So for me, it was very freeing to think to myself, "I need to give myself a break so that my daughter learns to give herself a break, because I do not want her growing up in a world of her own creation where she has to live up to unrealistic expectations."

[00:03:24] If we are driving ourselves so hard to do everything and be everything, we are setting that example for our children. And I don't know about you, but that is not a very pleasant way to live. I know this from experience and I don't want my daughter growing up thinking that that's normal or healthy.

[00:03:44] So a lot of this is about catching yourself and really trying to grow and learn not to do that. And also putting our egos aside and saying to ourselves, "it is OK to apologize to our kids. They are human beings who deserve to be treated with respect. It is a two way street. We cannot expect respect from our children if we don't treat them with respect." Apologizing is part of treating people with respect.

[00:04:18] I want my daughter to learn how to apologize in a real way, and to understand that apologizing does not mean that you suck. It means you made a mistake, but not that you are a mistake. Let's say that again. Apologizing means that you made a mistake. It is not admitting that you are a mistake.

[00:04:40] There is no shame in making mistakes. If that is something that you want your kids to know and truly live by, you need to know that *you* need to live by that as well, and give yourself a break (and give your kids a break) and just say you're sorry if you mess up. Realize that it doesn't make you a bad person, we are *all* going to mess up because that is part of being human and it's OK.

[00:05:08] So I hope that you'll take this little tidbit, tuck it into your brain somewhere and use it in the future. Think about the fact that you can apologize and your kids will learn from that, and that you don't need to be perfect because perfection does not create a perfect parent. It's actually the willingness to be imperfect that creates a great parent.