As part of Embrace Perfection month, this week the focus is on embracing our imperfect children. When I glance at the words in the image above, I easily nod my head. A huge part of me agrees – 0f course that’s one of my beliefs! I can wrap my arms all around my imperfect kids; after all, they’re just kids!

But in my tough parenting moments, when my kids have pushed limits beyond belief or hurt others in seemingly intentional ways (one of my hot buttons), I painfully struggle with this notion of imperfection. When my kids screw up, I’ve found myself questioning my parenting and doubting the whole notion that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn (one of the key attitudes of practicing Positive Discipline and life for that matter).

Fear Challenges Our Values

I sincerely value imperfection in my life and am convinced that I gain more knowledge, compassion, perspective taking skills and problem solving opportunities from imperfection than I do from perfection. I didn’t always view imperfection that way. It’s a journey and I’m still making progress on it. But I do value imperfection.

Although I highly value imperfection, fear can knock me off of my “rock of values”.

Our Rocks of Values – Mine and Yours

Imagine a huge rock, maybe six feet tall, with a flat place on top, big enough for me to comfortable stand, sit or even lie down. Imagine that you see the rock and me standing up on top of it. Now gaze down under me at the rock. You see words chiseled onto the smooth front face of the rock. The words are my values.  So you notice words and phrases like family, respect for self and others, creativity and of course, imperfection carved into the rock. You look back up and again see me standing on top of the rock. I  say, “This is where I stand! These are my values!” This is my image of my rock of values.

But life presents me with things like storms, emergencies and other challenges that knock me off of my rock. It’s not the challenges that knock me off the rock, but my response to the challenge. Sometimes my response is fear – a deep pang of what if I’ve really screwed this up fear. What if I haven’t given my kids my best? What if I’ve been too permissive with my kids? What if I’ve been too strict with my kids? I doubt myself in many ways, but it’s all about fear.

We all have our “rocks of values” and we all get knocked off of our rocks at times. I’ve decided it’s a good thing.

The Opportunities of Falling Off the Rock

If we get too comfortable standing up on our rocks, we often forget what values we’ve carved there and why we sliced them there in the first place. I’m imagining myself flat on my butt beside the rock – knocked down by the imperfect decisions my child made last weekend. It was  painful fall, but I’ve not broken any bones. I stand up and dust myself off and look back up to see how high the fall was. Next I examine the rock more. I walk around to the front of my rock and stare up at the words I carved.Really? I think. Is this really what I believe and want to hold true to?

Getting knocked off my rock is helpful because it helps me re-examine my values and think through the reasons I took time to work them into the rock in the first place. After evaluating my values again, I can stick with the ones that are there or I can sand down to a flat surface and carve new words if i want.

One Gift of Having Imperfect Children

My kids and their imperfections challenge me to consider and re-consider who I am and what I want – both for myself and for them. My own imperfections do that too, but my kids’ imperfections stretch me even further to get clear on my values. I hope you’ll consider your own imperfect actions and your kids’ imperfect actions as opportunities to get clear on what is it you’re trying to accomplish and what you’ve carved on your rock of values.

Kelly Pfeiffer

Think It Through Parenting

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