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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    Striving for Normalcy: Achieving Balance through Healthy Expectations

    To be a healthy parent is, in some ways, an impossible task – to model strength, build and maintain boundaries, be the master of consistency and the model of virtue. We imbue our children with our dreams and expectations, and it can be easy to sacrifice day-to-day reality for perfectionistic ideals instead. But these ideals are difficult, if not impossible, for any individual to reach – parent or child. Through openness, understanding and establishing firm yet supple expectations, parents can successfully guide their children and let them strive towards realistic goals.

    Children often inherit their parents' perfectionism and unrealistic expectations, which leads to withering anxiety and a host of other mental health issues. In the hope of instilling assertiveness, confidence, resilience and all-around success in their children, it's easy to take the road of perfectionism. But perfectionism can be a difficult skill to master – like attempting to jump too high, it can easily lead to more failures than successes. Parents should strive for normalcy; helping their children to understand that mistakes, criticism and other ‘unpleasantries' are simply part of life and necessary for growth ultimately.

    It's important that parents take care of themselves first and foremost before being able to effectively model anything for their children. When parents reset their unrealistic ambitions into balanced realms, their children often fall into step accordingly. This gives permission for children to establish their own healthy expectations without having to cross a heavy bar of perfectionism. When parents view failure as an opportunity for learning rather than solely a visible representation of inadequacy, their children witness this mentality firsthand and benefit from it.

    Creating little rituals of self-care and mindfulness is an effective way to stay closely connected but also independent as a family. Dedicated family time allows everyone in the household to move beyond roles and titles and focus on genuine interactions grounded in love. This directive time allows individuals – parents and children alike – a chance to feel revitalised mentally and emotionally by gathering strength from one another rather than relying harshly on individual fortitude.

    Establishing clear boundaries between parent and child is also a necessary element in crafting sustainable expectations. Boundaries – those which are communication based as much as they are behavioural – encompass both adults and children with common respect and understanding. This in turn helps infants develop self-respect and basic cognitive skills simultaneously. It's also important for parents to confront disruptive behaviour in an appropriate fashion; allowing behaviour to remain unchecked only teaches an infant that certain negative traits are acceptable and always will be. As long as parents present consequences for these types of behaviours (in a respectful manner) in a systematic way that is tailored to fit the individual needs of each child, expectations will become ingrained into children's minds intuitively.

    It's okay if parents don't always achieve perfection when parenting; the idea is to learn from mistakes so that future support works better. When we let go of our own rigid standards – bite back the urge to impose immovable perfectionism – our children gain valuable coping skills that ground them as they enter adulthood. There will be moments when everyone makes errors; days when no one gains what they wanted; occurrences when expectations aren't met - this is human nature, its normalcy in its entirety. Teaching our children how to sail through such trials with grace and understanding will empower them to become well-balanced adults with healthy perspectives on life's little demands.

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