Day Two of RIE foundations and I relearned something I have known for a long while but still have trouble finding peace with – It’s okay if we’re not perfect.
This was not actually the main focus of the day, we were delving more into gross motor development in infants but somewhere along the way Mummy guilt came up from all the women in the room who had discovered RIE late – well after their babies were born.
Worries surfaced “Have I ruined my child?” “How can I make amends for all the things I have done ‘wrong’?” Reassuringly, our course teacher, explained that it’s okay if we’re not perfect. No one can be perfect all the time. Even people committed to respectful parenting from birth make mistakes. The rupture and repair is important for deepening the relationship between parent and child.
This certainly got me thinking. Could it really be that mistakes are important for creating a strong and healthy relationship with our children? Do they really need to see us warts and all to be able to get close to us?
One student proposed that if we are perfect all the time, it can be too much for our little ones to aspire to. When they grow up, chances are they aren’t going to be perfect so therefore it is healthy to see us make mistakes. It lets our children in, especially if we model how to make amends.
They get to see that we are human with our own set of vulnerabilities. They see that despite our imperfections, we are still strong, capable and functioning. They see what we can achieve even whilst being vulnerable and this allows them a little relief as they experience their own imperfections throughout life. And then, when we repair, they learn from us how to move forward whilst still maintaining strength and trust within the relationship.
So, when we lose it at our children or do something we are not proud of in our parenting or in our daily lives, that has an impact on our children, we must be honest, let them know about the mistake we made. Let them know how sorry we are. We can’t make excuses. If we want our children to know how to truly make amends for their mistakes, we have to cast all blame aside. We did what we did because WE chose to do it and that’s all there is to it.
And what of the guilt we feel for all our wrong doings over the years? Can damage be done? Well, yeah, if children are mistreated or worse, damage can be done, but I am not talking about that here. I am talking about those days you are pushed to the brink every now and then or those times in the past when we knew no better and did things we would now consider disrespectful.
I carry a lot of Mummy guilt for not having discovered respectful parenting until my eldest was 18 months old. I shudder to think of the way we parented her in the beginning years of her life, when she was at her most vulnerable and needing so much more from us. But I realise now, as a 5 year old, she is who she is meant to be because of and in spite of her start to life.
By parenting her respectfully on a daily basis now, we have repaired and moved forward from that time. Has it impacted her, well, sure but is that a bad thing? Not any more. Not now that she is supported and respected to be who she is. She is understood and empathised with. She is trusted and accepted and because of that, I have to let go of the Mummy guilt.
I have to trust now that what I am doing is enough. I know better and I do better and I keep trying to do better still and that is enough. If I make a mistake, I can make amends. It’s okay not being perfect.
You can read about Day 1 on the importance of respect here.