I do not think technology is bad. I love all that it enables me to do, all the access and ease it brings. I see, however, that along with the benefits it brings to communication in my relationships, it also brings convenience that can cheapen the connection. Often after reading friends’ blogs, viewing their Facebook or Instagram accounts, I feel I have gotten caught up on their lives and my urge to connect with them is appeased to a degree. I have noticed my connection in these relationships has suffered over time. I have been grabbing fast food through the drive thru of information, and some of my relationships are suffering from lack of connection nutrition. I am gaining information from edited and limited glimpses into the lives of those around me; I’m missing out on intimacy, emotions, and real responses.
When we share ourselves in bits and snippets through typed words or snapshots that someone else will see on a screen, we are missing out on the connection that comes with risking vulnerability in the presence of someone who is going to react. Even emailing or texting one person takes much greater vulnerability and courage than emailing a group of people or writing a blog post. Don’t confuse exposure with vulnerability. And don’t confuse communication with connection. So, who do you need to connect with?
Your Kids Don’t Need A Perfect Parent
I have good news: your kids don’t need a perfect parent.
You are not alone if you think parenting is hard. It is. It is a job that requires all of who I am, around the clock. I can love my kids well and serve them well for a few hours or even a few days in a row. I can be attentive to their needs, present, and engaged. I think there are even times I am good at it. But then there are days when caring for them feels like a cheese grater on my skin. It doesn’t come naturally and I have little desire to sacrifice on their behalf.
When you live with people, especially people dependent upon you for their every need, it is hard to hide the darker facets of your heart. This part of parenting creates a lot of fear and anxiety for many parents (myself included). When my kids get an angered response from me, or I thoughtlessly dismiss them, I can see the sadness on their face and sense confusion about why mommy is suddenly being unkind or impatient. In this moment— this moment we all face— we have a choice.
We can sail past it, pretending it didn’t happen.
We can grow defensive and justify our selfishness.
Or we can turn toward our child and ask forgiveness.
When we fail (which we all do!) the temptation to hide our imperfections, deny them, or simply disengage from our children grows stronger in our hearts. When facing the upsetting truth of our imperfection, we feel vulnerable. And that is scary.
I have found that owning my imperfections and asking for forgiveness–like the third option above–restores and enhances the relationship with my children. The pressure to be perfect dissipates for both of us and the freedom to be authentic is more defining of our relationship.
In a world filled with pressure to look good, where appearances are everything and self-sufficiency is glorified, we have the power to give our kids the tools to engage honestly and find their identity in something beyond appearing perfect. We can model and promote love and acceptance through being authentic amidst vulnerability, rather than doing everything “perfectly.”
So good news! Your kids don’t need a perfect parent. They need a courageous parent, humble enough to to risk vulnerability after messing up. How you honestly handle your imperfection matters more than your imperfections themselves.
By: Kim Hammans, PLPC
By: Andy Gear
A trip my wife and I took to Massachusetts reminded me of something I had learned as a kid from a man who had lived in Sierra Leone: “Different isn’t bad, it’s just not the same.”
Recently, my wife and I visited the town in Massachusetts where we spent our honeymoon. It’s just a little fisherman’s village, but it brought back so many memories of our first year together. One might assume that it made me nostalgic for that “honeymoon period” when we had no kids, no problems, and our whole life ahead of us. And it did. But I also remembered how difficult that first year was.
No one ever told me that learning to live with another person would be so difficult. And if they did I ignored them, because we were young and in love. Why would we ever argue? We’re soul mates.
So I was surprised to learn during that first year that my wife is very different than me. We have different interests, different values, different ways of thinking, feeling, communicating, different views of money and conflict, and different ways of eating cereal. Because she was different than what I grew up with, I assumed that her differences were wrong, bad, or illogical. I remember going for walks with her in some of the old neighborhoods in U. City, talking about the things a young seminarian thinks important. I’d be in the middle of what I thought a life-changing idea, when she would stop me and make me observe a bed of flowers, an idyllic home, or the sun descending with the most beautiful shade of orange. I was so frustrated. Why didn’t she think like me? What was wrong with her? I tried to convince her to be more like me. That did not go over well at all. Then I remembered the saying I shared with you earlier, “Different isn’t bad, it’s just not the same.” I dwelt on this thought.
What if the things that are different about my wife are not only acceptable but are very good? What if my wife and I are custom made for each other and our individual qualities are meant to shape us into more whole, balanced, and fully functioning human beings?
I developed a new assumption: who my wife is now is very good.
With this new assumption in mind, I began to act upon it. I slowly began to receive my wife’s differences not as trials to bear but as gifts to be enjoyed. I tried to allow that person to shine through, to learn from her.
The result has been life changing.
I’m not convinced that I’m any better at marriage, but I appreciate who my wife is. And in a small way I am becoming a more balanced, whole, and fully functioning human being. I believe that learning to embrace the beauty of who she is right now helped make my second trip to Massachusetts even better than the first.