What if I gave you the secret recipe for raising the perfect child? Would you be in? Are you curious to know how it could be accomplished?
Good news! I actually do have the recipe. I am ready to share it with you. The wild part about this recipe is that it only requires one step. I know that this sounds too good to be true, but if you stick with me, you’ll agree that this perfect child recipe is bound to work.
Are you ready? I don’t think you are. I could hype up this recipe for months. We are talking about raising the perfect child here… That’s a big deal! Okay, if you say you’re ready, here it is.
Change Your Definition of Perfect!
That’s it. That’s the step.
Okay, so maybe it is a little bit more complicated than that, but let’s break it down… For context, I am a father of two boys and a teacher who has had thousands of students (from middle school through college level).
We all have an idea of what it means to be perfect. The problem is that idea changes from person to person. Does perfect mean that your child needs to be a successful athlete? Does your perfect child need to achieve a certain G.P.A. or entrance into an Ivy League university? Are perfect children allowed to cry, be frustrated, or stomp off in anger? Can the perfect child follow any career path or date any person they are attracted to?
These are very general questions to get your brain jogging. Imagine every parent who reads this article. The answers would be different for each one. Yet, everybody would have an answer. How can we be on such different pages and be so sure of our own definition?
We think in terms of “perfect” the way it was taught to us. Your parents encouraged and discouraged certain things. Teachers reinforced them in school and you and your peer group conformed to many of these ideals. Your definition of “perfect” today is shaped by the experiences and narratives of your past.
To raise the perfect child, the first thing we have to give up is our own idea of what perfect means. Instead, we have to allow our children to create their own definition of perfect, free from the expectations we are passing down from our own experience.
This does not mean that your child should not have ambition, drive, focus, or purpose. In fact, it is very important that they do. It simply means that they need the space and permission to seek out their own definition.
I have seen many students fail out of school who are more than capable of passing. When asked, they describe how they cannot be the type of student that people want them to be. They engage differently and learn in ways that the school and their parents do not encourage. Their interests and passions are not supported by the adults who they look up to. These students get lost while trying to run from their own identity to match what the “perfect” kids should be doing.
Want to raise the perfect child? Allow them to fit themselves into their definition of perfect. Don’t define it for them or force them into thinking that perfect is something completely outside of them. Show how they can be perfect by being self-aware and fostering their own, unique strengths.
I hope this was the perfect article to help you maximize the potential of your child. Remember, they do not have to be a certain way to be perfect. The only thing your child needs to do is to continue growing, developing, and improving on their strengths and passions. Their perfect life will only be interrupted by a faulty definition of what perfect is.
Dr. Kevin Leichtman is the author of “The Perfect Ten: Ten Students, Ten Mindsets, One New Definition of Perfect.” He is also the co-founder of TLC Educate, alongside his wife, Dr. Anala Leichtman. Kevin has taught ELA/Reading in every grade level from 7th-12 and teaches equity and diversity courses at Florida Atlantic University. His research interests include equity, student voice, burnout, and mindset.
Book Description: “The Perfect Ten” will challenge your perspective on the idea of the “perfect student.” This non-fiction, narrative based project will introduce you to ten students who did not fit the typical mold of a perfect student. They detail their experiences, both in and out of school, to show how they were able to leverage their strengths and overcome the obstacles that many parents, educators, and peers placed in front of them. Their vulnerability and stories of success will surely inspire you as you consider the role perfectionism plays in your own life and the way you view others.