The Quest for Imperfection
I coach a couple who questioned if perhaps, they were expecting too much from their 7th grade son.
In the summer following 5th grade their son wanted a cell phone. With promises and hope they agreed that he would earn a phone when he mastered keeping his grades above a specified level and going to bed and getting up on time without being prompted.
More than a year later, and still not meeting the requirements, their son was angry and frustrated. He accused his parents of treating him unfairly and not getting it. He claimed he’s the only one who doesn’t have a phone. And he asserted that he misses out, is left out and sticks out!
This outcry triggered his parents to question the emotional and social fallout. They wanted to do the right thing, but what it was wasn’t clear. They fretted over the only options they saw: give in and get him a phone or dive deeper and insist that he meet the expectations.
That’s when they contacted me. After some discussion we crafted a plan.
They reassured their son that the three of them still share the same goal of him getting a phone. They reminded him that they believe in him and understand that he feels left out. They asked him to articulate ideas of what he could do differently to improve his grades and master his end of day and morning tasks. And they encouraged him to ask for help and promised to support him in every way possible.
By handing the problem-solving steps to their son and being emotionally sensitive, their son devised strategies that he made work. His parents’ approach was the boost he needed to re-engage and shift his focus to action and away from anger.
Next up on his parents’ agenda is collaborating with their son on phone use and responsibility.
Emma studied for her science exam, felt prepared and earned a 91. She did not stress about not getting 100. She was curious about what she missed.
She combed through the returned test. She saw how she graphed the values wrong. Now, she plots them correctly. She remembers now that neon, helium, and argon are Nobel gases and writes that on the blank line. And she recalls, during the test, that she quickly circled B. Waxing. But the answer was D. Waning, which she didn’t even see because she knew the answer started with a W. and circled the first W she saw. She told herself she can be more careful next time.
It did not occur by luck, nor was it random that Emma did well on the exam. She knows how to prioritize, ask for help, complete her homework, keep track of her supplies, write down her assignments and check them off, study, and manage her time.
The beauty of this is seeing that Emma values learning, not improving her grade. She gained mastery of the information both before and after she took the test. She allowed herself to accept her errors without being punitive, shaming or being ugly to herself.
One of the coolest things about Emma is that she does not let her grades limit or define her. She’s committed to working hard and doing her best in school, at home doing chores, building Legos, and baking dessert, and on the soccer field. She accepts that she is not perfect and won’t ever be.
It’s important to let our children know we understand how difficult it is for them to live their lives authentically. The pressures of grades, making the team, and fitting in overwhelm them. Our goal is show them that we believe in them, will always stand with them and are proud of them just as they are.
Warm regards and appreciation for all you do,