What a burden for today’s children to bear. They have to be
perfect in every way in order to be acceptable to their parents.
I wonder what would happen to these parents if the children were
given the choice and chose to be born only to perfect parents.
That would certainly solve the population problem. I have never
met a perfect parent. Have you?
As a matter of fact, I am happy to say, I have never met a
perfect person. I do not think one exists. Our imperfections
are what make us unique, interesting and human. Otherwise, I
suspect we would all be robots. But maybe that is what parents
want: Perfect Child Robots. Children who would never give them
any trouble. Such children would never move from the spot they
were assigned, would never speak for themselves, would never take
a risk, would never get sick, would never have a disagreement or
argument, would never have a physical imperfection, would never
think for themselves, would never make a mistake, would never
get less than an A, would never be different from other perfect
children. In other words, would be quite dull and unexciting to
be around. Like being with a robot. If you have seen one, you
have seen them all. Thank goodness, you have not seen one
because they do not exist. Life is more exciting than that.
Apparently, however, there are some adults who do not believe
this and keep demanding perfection in their children. They do
not want excitement. They want predictability. Since their
children cannot be perfect, the parents are doomed to
disappointment and the children are doomed to failure.
Recently a 20 year old girl who seemed perfect in every way
wrote to Ann Landers stating that she wanted to die. Her
reasoning was that she had the best of everything, but she says:
“I want to die young with all the chips in my corner.” Obviously
perfect parents giving a perfect child a perfect life does not
always produce someone who has zest for life. What it seems to
produce in this case, is a person who is not a risk-taker. She
wants to quit while she is ahead, never having faced the
challenges of life. She has a fear of failure and she will not
develop into the person she could be.
Erma Bombeck quoted a letter from another student of the
same age who was born with cerebral palsy. “I have cerebral
palsy and my mother has never accepted this, or as a result me.
She was given a child less than perfect and she curses me for a
lot of things that were problems long before I came along.” She
goes on to say she has learned a lot from her handicap: how to
laugh, how to be understanding and accepting of people and how to
forgive her mother. She does not talk of dying. She talks of
facing the next challenge.
The mother of this girl would have been much happier if she
had taken the advice of another mother of a less-than-perfect
child who wrote to Ann Landers. She said that it is like wanting
all of your life to go to Italy. You study the language, the
country the people. The day finally comes and you fly to Italy.
When you got off the plane, however, you discover you are not in
Italy but in Holland. You cannot go to Italy. You can curse and
moan, and say life is not fair, give up and feel sorry for
yourself. Or you can say, “Great, I did not plan on seeing
Holland but this could be a great adventure too. I am looking
forward to getting to know, understand and enjoy Holland.” This
mother is going to enjoy the adventure, and excitement of raising
a less-than-perfect child. In the end, it is what life is all
about–zest, joy, making mistakes, learning and facing the next
We parents of less-than-perfect children, which includes all
of us, do best when we become concerned with the inner growth of
our children and not with the outside facade. As Emerson says:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
compared to what lies within us.”