Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
In talking to clients, both couples and individuals, the question of parenting often comes up. We want, of course, to do the best for our children, and sometimes people feel bad if they are less than perfect – they can feel that they are letting their kids down if they make mistakes. This can be a very personal thing – you may feel that your own parents let you down when you were young, and so be determined that you won’t let your own kids down in the same way. Or you may feel that you had a fantastic childhood and that your own parents were wonderful – and then feel that you want to just as well, or even better, as a parent yourself.
For most of us, of course, it will be a mix of these two things. Some things that our own parents did will seem sensible, and we will want to replicate them; other things we will see as less good and we will want to do these things differently. But typically, in thinking about what sort of parent we want to be, we will look at our own childhood and think about how our own parents’ actions affected us as a kid. And of course, if we are co-parenting, there are compromises to be made with our partner’s model of what they want to be like as parents; it’s no good if you work against each other – often kids play on this, of course).
So, we build up an idea of how we want to be, but sometimes we set ourselves impossibly high standards, starting out with the intention of being a perfect parent. In fact, I think the idea of a “perfect parent” is a contradiction. What sort of lessons are we teaching our kids if we actually achieve perfection? Part of what we all need to learn in growing up is that people all make mistakes – nobody is perfect – and that admitting to our mistakes, apologising for them, and forgiving mistakes in others – all these things are part of being an adult – and all these things it is important for kids to observe, to experience, and to practice themselves.
So, instead of aiming for perfection, I like to talk about being a “good enough” parent. We cannot devote ourselves 100% to our children – we need to look after ourselves as well; indeed, if we don’t look after ourselves, it’s going to be much harder to look after our kids. And kids need to learn that they’re not the centre of the universe, that sometimes you need space and time, and sometimes they need to look after themselves. So it’s healthy to make mistakes sometimes, and to say sorry for them. It’s sensible to put yourself first sometimes, and then say “no” to the kids. And if you were to achieve perfection as a parent, think what a strain that would put your kids under when they become parents – the poor things would be doomed to failure, wouldn’t they?