One of my Facebook friends recently posted a picture of her three year old daughter’s artwork. Her comment read: “My daughter colors inside the black lines PERFECT…she's still 3 years old...Remember that.” While my mantra is, “Until further notice…celebrate everything,” my stomach dropped just a bit when I scanned the word “PERFECT.”
I clearly recall being a young stay-at-home momma who was driven by perfectionism. Frankly, my behavior was borderline obsessive compulsive. My home was cleaned from the basement to the bedroom level, the laundry was washed, dried, and put away, and every single toy and wooden block was in its rightful place. In short, everything was perfect.
Unfortunately, this mentality spilled over into my role as a homeschooler. So, by the time my son was two years old, he was legibly writing his name, alphabets, and numbers, counting to 100, had mastered his shapes, address, and telephone number, and…yes…coloring inside the lines. Anything short of this, I felt, was a poor reflection on him and his family.
It would be years before I realized that I was disillusioned and had no clue of what true learning entailed. In fact, my mission to present this “perfect” picture had everything to do with pleasing the masses versus instilling sound educational principles into my children. I fed into the lie that if my children did not reach various milestones outlined in those infant, baby, and toddler books that I was missing the mark.
In her article “The Pitfalls of Perfectionism,” Jennifer Drapkin, a writer for Psychologytoday.com, pointed out a few pitfalls to perfectionism:
- Perfectionists never feel satisfied.
- Perfectionist cannot tolerate flaws.
- Perfectionists lead a life of continual anxiety and fear of failure.
- Perfectionists feel as though the world expects them to be impeccable.
As a result of my behavior, my children began to display some of the traits listed above. Erasers were used incessantly and crumpled sheets of paper filled my trash bins. The straw that broke the camels back was when one of my sons said he felt stupid because he did not understand a math concept. I knew then I had to stop the madness.
It’s been many years since I’ve lived the life of a perfectionist. The major shift in my behavior has fostered a more tolerant mindset in my children. They are not hard on themselves anymore and have learned to embrace both their style of learning and overall achievements. As Jennifer stated in her article, we all have learned to accept our flaws and live a more loving and satisfying life.
Kimberly K. Parker is the President and CEO of Writing Momma Publishing, LLC. (www.writingmomma.com). To date, she has written three books and has helped nine children between the ages of nine and nineteen write and publish books of their own. This summer, she is offering “The Ultimate Writing Experience!” For more information visit www.writingmomma.com and click on Writing Programs. Kimberly is a professional writer, author, publisher, and blogger living in
with her husband and three