How Fathers Create Space for Imperfection

What’s your take on these wise words from Seth Godin? 

“Truly perfect is becoming friendly with your imperfections on the way to doing something remarkable.”

I interpret this with a parenting twist:

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Truly perfect is feeling free to embrace your imperfections, knowing that the real you is more than the sum of your achievements (or your child’s achievements).  Along the way, you create room for someone else to be imperfect and realize the world won’t stop turning.  Truly perfect is accepting that growth is a (messy) process, at best.  

The more you can create space for your best self to emerge, the more you are able to encourage your child’s best self to emerge, as well.

Here’s what Seth said recently as he urged readers to abandon perfection:

“…It’s possible you work in an industry built on perfect. That you’re a scrub nurse in the OR, or an air traffic controller or even in charge of compliance at a nuclear power plant.

The rest of us, though, are rewarded for breaking things…”

Wow, rewarded for breaking things?!  I’m starting to like the sound of this…

He continues:  “Perfect is the ideal defense mechanism, the work of Pressfield’s Resistance, the lizard brain giving you an out. Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important).  You’re not in the perfect business. Stop pretending that’s what the world wants from you.”

As parents, perhaps our most important job is to love our kids so relentlessly that they believe they are lovable, worthy, deserving – so much that they dare to take risks, fail, and break things.  BE IMPERFECT – and not feel bad about it at all!

A great father seems to know how to coax this out of his kids instinctively.  And the irony is that Dads  don’t accept sloppy work, half-hearted effort.  Yet, the net effect is that they encourage us to be our best.  Maybe because they are so often asking the best from themselves?

© Alaska Teacher via CC

© Alaska Teacher via CC

Dads encourage us to take risks, stretch ourselves, not play it safe.  They play rough, they don’t always listen to our protests, they are willing to push us.

Dads don’t coddle us.  Instead, they’re more apt to get in our face, demand we give our best efforts, and be fine with us being pissed off at them.

Dads trust that we can handle disappointment, displays of anger, impatience, and “real life”.  In fact, they seem universally concerned with making sure that we understand that life doesn’t owe us anything, and we’d better get our **it together if we want to make it in the world.

Dads are mellow – until they get ticked off.  Then they tend to be louder, more aggressive, less politically correct.  They don’t worry that we can’t take it.  They worry that we’ll be soft, irresponsible, lacking self-discipline and motivation.

A group of teens told me about their fathers:

  • He’s good at making money
  • He’s good at sports
  • He’s good at keeping order in our house
  • He plays rough with me
  • He’s the first man a girl will look up to

Dads have their own awesome style.  Different.  And vitally important.

Dad:  Why are you mad?

Kid:  Because _____

Dad:  Get over it.

Not to say that Dads don’t have EQ.  The best do.

A wise friend recently shared her belief that what OUR parents really want for us is to know and understand that we are loved, so that we are able to love ourselves when they’re gone.  That they will have given us everything we need to carry on with love and purpose.

I’m starting to realize that we may not have all the time we think we do.  Life can change in an instant.  We all know someone whose life has been irrevocably changed by a twist of fate.  Usually it’s someone else, and we can maintain the illusion that it won’t happen to us.  But it can.  It will, eventually.

So this Father’s Day, take time to appreciate your Dad if you’re lucky enough to have him in your life.

Make the call.  Better yet, go do something together.  Feel like a kid again for a little while, basking in his love and the feeling that everything will be all right.

And don’t be afraid to be imperfect, to bring the part of you that stands up for yourself, doesn’t take crap from anyone, and speaks your mind.  Your Dad can handle it.

About kimberly

Kimberly helps parents learn new ways to connect with their children in order to increase cooperation and mutual respect in families. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer & facilitates parenting classes and workshops. Her two children have been her best teachers. A CTI trained Coach, she helps people find clarity and courage to create new possibilities in their lives.
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