As Judith Costello, author of Zen Parenting, can attest, parenting is an amazingly complex task—caring for the physical, emotional, educational, social, and spiritual needs of the young. And every child has a particular temperament, personality, developmental patterns, and preferences, which interact with each parent’s unique characteristics, so there is never a “one size fits all.” Even so, Costello reminds us that it can be helpful to remember that people have been parenting for thousands of years, without the help of expert advice. Recently, however, many parents express that they feel they must live up to the standards set by “perfect” pictures of “perfect” lives they see via social media.
Costello shares simple, self-nurturing ways you can embrace your inner parenting expert, trust yourself, and tune into the guidance that comes from practicing deep reflection. With this practice, you’ll learn to release your expectation of perfection.
As explained in Zen Parenting, Costello reassures parents that the answers we seek can be found inside of each of us. When we let go of expectations and participate in life with full awareness, parenting will begin to flow—like a leaf floating on the river. Then we can flow with life and react to the present moment with calm and confidence. Too often, Costello explains, we look for answers outside of ourselves because we have recurring thoughts of inadequacy. Watch your mind for those times when you are focusing on feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, or frustration.
Whenever such feelings come up, challenge yourself with the following questions:
- Is my child growing?
- Am I taking care of him or her?
- Do I have to be perfect to be a parent?
- Do I expect perfection from my child?
After challenging negative thought patterns with questions like these, practice letting go and re-focusing. Turn your total attention to one object right in front of you. See it fully. See its shape, color, and patterns. Watch the play of light upon it. Experience it as fully as possible. This will settle your mind and give you renewed clarity and calm.
Find more tips for letting go of parenting perfection in Zen Parenting.