By Smriti Goswami
I desire the best future for my children, and for many years, I believed the only way I could ensure it was to be a perfect parent, raising perfect kids. After years of strict rules, high expectations, pressure to perform, and constant judgment of me and my kids, I realised striving for perfection was killing our joy curiosity, and creativity.
Perfection is a constant state of judgment. What if there’s nothing to perfect? What if you don’t have to get it “right” as a parent or a kid because there’s actually nothing wrong with you in the first place?
One of the most dynamic ways we can discover our greatness, ignite our dreams and create the life we desire is by giving up self-judgment.
There are many ways parents can empower their children to eliminate judgment and limits, and truly soar:
- Always have questions, never answers
Rather than struggling to try and give our kids the answers for a perfect life, ask them questions that empower them to create a joyful and generative life of their own choosing. Don’t give them answers or limits. Ask them what they desire: “What would you choose if you knew you could never fail?” “If you were creating life on your own terms, what would that be?”
- Allow freedom of experience
Having strict rules and forbidden things is the perfect invitation for rebellion. I used to force my son to study and not go out. The moment his exams finished, he refused to even touch his books again. I realised this didn’t work. I now let both my children know it’s their choice and they are responsible for creating a greater future for themselves.
I ask them, “What would you like your life to be like now and in the future? What choices are required for you to create that?”
- Allow them to fail
Demanding perfection makes failure the worst possible outcome! Now, I am willing for my kids to fail. Everyone messes up or gets in trouble and the most empowering choice you can make at those times is to refrain from judging your child and realise that failure is just an unexpected result, not the end of the world. Some kids (and adults) receive their greatest inspirations, ideas, and awareness from mistakes and failures. If something doesn’t work out, let them know they can just choose again.
- Encourage self-trust
Perfection requires constant self-doubt. Self-trust develops their confidence to handle themselves in any situation. Encourage your children to listen to their intuition and instincts. I say to my kids, “It doesn’t matter if your best friend is telling you that it’s the best thing; if it feels heavy or not right for you, trust you always.”
- Focus on joy, not getting it right
When my daughter was about four years old, she was going out to play with a friend and I said, “I don’t like what you are wearing, I don’t think it’s suitable. Would you like to change your outfit?” She looked over her clothes and replied, “I like it,” and skipped away. How often do we refuse to choose what is joyful in favour of fitting in with outside standards? Now I tell my kids, “If you didn’t have to get anything right, how much fun could you have doing it your way?”
- Support their current dreams – even if they change
As a kid, I wanted to be and do everything! My wonderful parents never restricted me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I did many things, including a Navy Diving Course, earning my commercial pilots’ licence, launching multiple businesses and enjoying success in adventure-sport, athletics and aeronautical gliding. Are you willing to be the wind beneath your children’s wings, allowing them to soar and not trying to steer their direction? This doesn’t mean you stand idle if they’re choosing something you know isn’t in their best interest. Ask questions: “What would truly make you happy? Is this the path that works for you? Will this create the future you desire?”
- Encourage them to find their voice
Having your voice is not just about following dreams. It includes expressing when there is upset, anger or hurt as well. It’s important not to shut down any line of communication. If your kids disagree, listen to their point of view without judgment. Be willing to explain why you are not allowing something or taking a certain perspective. Having vulnerability and openness with them will allow them to have that also, while never feeling the need to stifle their voice.
A joyful life is far from perfect, in fact, it’s greater. Don’t let you or your kids get stuck in trying to be perfect. What if you are too wonderful to be perfect?
Smriti Goswami is a communication mentor, life and business coach and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs, including Joy of Business, Right Voice for You, and Access Bars®. She is a certified FAA Commercial Pilot, experienced glider pilot and co-owner of Mumbai organisation, ArtEscapades. A talented athlete and adventure sportswoman, Smriti successfully completed an intensive SCUBA course with the Indian Naval Diving Team in her youth – one of just eight girls in a gathering of 600 participants. A committed advocate for women’s empowerment, she offers individual consultations and classes around the world, empowering people to think out of the box and follow their dreams.