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Perfectionist
Mom with a View

Perfectionist

If we don't take ay risks, we won't fail. But we won't accomplish either.

by

You can't learn how to ski without falling in the snow. Life is not about being perfect, it's about continuing to try. It's about rising to challenges, not avoiding them.

Psychologists today say that the pressure on children to be perfect is greater than ever, and with disastrous consequences. Perfectionists are terrified of making mistakes and thus paralyzed from acting and growing and achieving.

Here is a brief summary of a perfectionist's view of the world (as described in Psychology Today, March/April 2008):

Concern over mistakes: Perfectionists tend to interpret mistakes as equivalent to failure and to believe they will lose the respect of others following failure.

High personal standards: Perfectionists don't just set very high standards but place excessive importance on those standards for self-evaluation.

Parental expectations: Perfectionists tend to believe their parents set very high goals for them.

Parental criticism: Perfectionists perceive that their parents are (or were) overly critical.

Doubting actions: Perfectionists doubt their ability to accomplish tasks.

Organization: Perfectionists tend to emphasize order."

You don't have to be a psychologist to recognize that this is not a recipe for happiness or accomplishment.

And much of the blame lies at the feet of...you know who. Although schools and peers sometimes put too much pressure on our kids, the biggest culprits are us, the parents.

We must demonstrate love for our children, believe in them and an appreciation of effort as opposed to results.

It's what we communicate to our children that has the biggest impact, that is most influential in shaping their outlook. If we exhibit zero tolerance for mistakes, so will they. And we will all lead severely constricted lives as a result. We must demonstrate love for our children, believe in them and an appreciation of effort as opposed to results.

One of our core beliefs is that while the effort is in our hands, the outcome is in the Almighty's. Whether our work will meet with success is out of our control. Being a perfectionist becomes irrelevant -- at the least, and damaging -- at the worst.

The Almighty doesn't expect us to be perfect. He knows it's not realistic. And we don't need to set higher standards than the Almighty Himself.

We will never be perfect, but with more self-love and appreciation, we can accomplish a great deal. And focusing on the positive spurs us to continue.

Published: March 29, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) raye, April 4, 2008 1:31 AM

"It doesn't have to be perfect"

I am very good at giving helpful advice to others but am not able to help myself. I was patting my face and neck with rose water one very hot summer day in a Jewish Day School where there was no airconditioning. A little ten-year-old girl whose right arm was somewhat shriveled from polo reached out and begged for the bottle of rosewater. She tried to manipulate it with one arm. I put the bottle in her "imperfect" hand and said "God wants you to use everything you've got. It doesn't have to be perfect." She looked at me with a shining light. No one had ever told her this simple truth.

(8) Prova, April 3, 2008 4:12 PM

There's No Such Thing As Perfect...

I believe people who expect perfection from kids should first look in the mirror; if they don't see it there, they should not expect it anywhere else. As far as the comment made regarding "kids today don't want to work hard". It is not enough to show up at school; there has to be a unique passion for wanting to do Math, Reading, & Critical Thinking; these kids should be able to envision what path this will lead to. The teacher should be the one to open these closed doors. When I was attending St. Anthony De Padua Grade School, we were not allowed to make mistakes in class; if we did, the nuns would make fun of us, & urge the other students to laugh & mock whoever was at the chalk board figuring out math problems. At the time I thought this was normal, so I never bothered to tell my parents; I told my mother just recently, & she asked me why I didn't tell her then because she would have given a piece of her mind to the nun, & pull me out of that awful dungeon. This does not help students to learn, it just digs them deeper into a hole in which they cannot crawl out of. If ever I am fortunate enough to have kids, one of the first things I would tell them is to make as many mistakes as possible; it's okay to color outside the lines, and it is also okay to use whatever color you want for the sky; this is the only way they learn. I still have a phobia about math today because of these ignorant, sadistic nuns, who had no business being among children, let alone human beings.

(7) eb, April 2, 2008 8:30 PM

children today are afraid of working hard

I am finding that children today are afraid of working hard- and of reaching success that comes with all the hard work. My son and their friends would rather play ball, hang out, do anything other than study. Then they are disappointed when thet don't do well in school. No matter how much I encourage them, with positive reinforcement, it is always easier and more fun to be somewhere else. Afterwards we can blame the parents for being too crtitical, when the child feels bad about himself for not having done what he should have in the first place and the parent tries gently to point it out- Aha, you just want me to be perfect like you! You can't win! Your child has to want to do.....to try....to be the best he or she can be. That's it. Not a perfect person. Just a mench.

(6) Anonymous, April 2, 2008 10:48 AM

Recently, I told my in-laws that my children were perfect, and they said, "that's not a good thing and don't say that." But I think we disagreed on the definition of perfect. My definition is someone who tries their best - to be nice, respectful and work hard in school. If my children accomplice this, and I think they are, then they are perfect.

(5) ruth housman, April 2, 2008 2:44 AM

what is perfect?

Hi, I lived with a father who once told me he expected me to be perfect. I learned of course that there is no such thing as perfect. God is perfect. I strove to achieve something that not only was not possible but was not even clearly definable. I mean, what is perfect? My cat is "purr" fect. She is my "Mews" and she generates LOVE. That is Purrhaps, the best way to get at this elusive idea. It is so important that we let go of this notion and not take a highly critical approach with our children. Creativity needs to be nourished in all dimensions and perfect is a child's attempt in any way to be creative and to express him or herself.
I do totally resonate to this small piece. Thanks. More need to hear and respond to this in "kind".

Ruth

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