Just like there once was a time when there were basically only three flavors of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry), there also used to only be a finite number of sources from which you could get parenting advice and wisdom. These resources were generally your parents, your doctor, and the one or two parenting books that everyone owned. Things were simpler then. Now we have unlimited flavors of ice cream and unlimited sources of parenting advice and information. This is overwhelming and causes parents to constantly second-guess themselves. Therapist and author, Esther Perel, said we are “parenting in the age of perfectionism” and it ain’t easy.
Do you ever get decision fatigue or analysis paralysis when you walk into the ice cream shop? You want to make the perfect choice and you find yourself sampling two or three flavors before deciding. Then you finally sit down with your ice cream and notice you didn’t see that they had chocolate brownie fudge oreo marshmallow! You immediately regret the ice cream you chose. You sigh and scroll through your phone, only to see that your friend Lucy is currently eating dark chocolate covered cherry almond crunch at the new ice cream shop down the street. You realize you first mistake was showing up at the wrong ice cream shop. If only you had known...
The above scenario can play out, only change out “ice cream” for “parenting advice and choices”. Things were simpler when there were only three choices of resources and people didn’t know what they didn’t know. The internet has given us access to so much knowledge, as well as an in depth look into how everyone else is parenting (or how they appear to be parenting). This has upped the levels of comparison, which increases fear, feeling like a failure, and guilt. Not to mention the speed at which technology is propelling our world forward. We don’t really have a frame of reference for what our children’s experience will be like when they are adults. There is no longer the wisdom of passing on of the family trade to your children. We lack the grounding that comes with knowing exactly what you are preparing your child for.
So what do we do about this overwhelm? We certainly can’t (and maybe don’t want to) make all the choices and resources go away. (And let’s face it, The Tonight Dough by Ben & Jerry’s was a gift to ice cream flavors). Here are three tips to help with the dilemma of parenting in the age of perfectionism and unlimited resources:
- What works for you, does not work for everyone, and that’s okay! Just because someone else is doing it different, does not mean you are doing it wrong. So do what works for you and your family, and let Lucy do Lucy.
- Be flexible. What works for one day, month, or season, may not work forever, or may not work for your second born. Being flexible in your parenting will take you far. Go back to the drawing board if something is not working and don’t put so much pressure on yourself to figure it all out. We are all learning.
- Realize that you are a good enough parent, and you are exactly the parent your child needs. So just be you, and prioritize your relationship with your child and you both will win.
So when faced with all the things, take a deep breath and listen to yourself. You know what’s right for you and your child in this moment. Parenting in the age of perfectionism is not about being perfect, it’s about showing up and figuring out what’s working today.
Still overwhelmed and need more support? Contact me today for counseling, conveniently located in the Twin Cities.