The trouble with praise is that it fosters an environment that makes it scary to make mistakes. I’m noticing that here.
I say, I do this parenting thing. Then, weirdly, a bunch of people tell me I’m a great parent. Which really does seem weird to me, because I’m a trial and error, read all the research, constantly failing, constantly learning parent. Of a two-year-old. There is a lot of room for mistakes there.
The bad thing about it is that I like the praise. It means something to me. It makes me feel validated. It shouldn’t. Especially when it comes to parenting, the only things that should matter is whether I’m making a moral decision and the net effect it has on my daughter.
Even worse, because I internalize that praise and use it to validate myself, I start to feel as though I have to be a perfect parent. I stop allowing myself the privilege of humanity, the room to forgive myself and share my mistakes.
I am not perfect. I will not ask myself to be. I am still learning. I’m more likely to be too permissive than too strict. I have bad days. I have lazy days. I am human.
It makes me feel angry, with myself, that I’m feeling anxious about sharing my mistakes here on my blog. Part of that stems from the fact that there are a lot of people who read this that know me in real life and part of it stems from the fact that once you say “I know, for sure, that this one particular thing is the right way of doing this.” you open yourself us to criticism on everything else you do.
The other day, I took Fiona to Khols with me. I had a $10 coupon that would have expired at the end of the day. I left the stroller at home and was trying to let her practice staying near me. I also didn’t really want to leave, because I wanted to spend my coupon.
She, being at that testing phase, tested to see how far away she was allowed to get. I told her that if she got out of my sight I would take her home. She said she didn’t want to go home. She also ducked around the corner and hid in one of the clothing racks.
I panicked, found her, and made her hold my hand, and finished my shopping. I didn’t follow through. I was horribly dreadfully inconsistent. And I lectured her. Until she actually told me, “Okay. Okay. Back off! Chill out! Okay.”
I screwed up, and after all the hoopla about spanking, I didn’t want to say that I screwed up by not following through on other discipline. I stopped being able to use my blog to write about what was on my mind because I didn’t want people to say, “See, you screw up too!”
I am human. I am right about certain things. I also make mistakes and get things wrong. I need the room to do that. Please, don’t make to big of a deal of my parenting. Pedestals are very high; it’s a long way to fall and it hurts way more.