Friday, July 12, 2013

The fear of being a critical parent

The problem with being a person of high expectations is that in addition to having them for myself, I have equally high expectations of other people, including my children.  And since I cannot control other people, and especially my children, this means I am sometimes frustrated and/or disappointed.

I set myself to very high, and possibly unattainable, standards.  This isn't to say that I don't have occasions where I let myself slide, but it isn't too often.  When I do give what I consider half-assed effort, there is always an internal tongue-lashing going on inside my brain.  I am often accused of being "too hard on myself" by my mother and an assortment of momma friends.

High standards/expectations are not always a bad thing.  Being a person who follows through, who tries to give exemplary effort, these things generally produce good results and the respect of colleagues and friends.

But I wonder if having them for my children is a bad thing.  Or can be a bad thing.

There is a taut rope of balance between having high standards and being a hard-ass, and children, given their limited view of the world, are not always able to understand that 1. the parent loves them immensely regardless of anything and 2. parents come with all sorts of baggage that affects how they parent and who they are and that this has nothing to do with the kid at all.  

If I have to choose, I know I prefer to have high expectations of how my children behave and what they accomplish.  I don't expect them to succeed in all things, but I do expect them to give their best effort and have a good attitude.

But sometimes I doubt whether I am as strongly preaching empathy and "I love you regardless" as I am "do your best."  

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