Where did we learn that anything short of perfection will bring shame and embarrassment on ourselves and families?
How the need for perfection is passed from one generation to the next is a question we can answer. Many of us as (grand)parents we praise what we define as perfection in our (grand)children and we criticize everything else - unfortunately there is far more criticism then praise.
- The child that gets 95% on a test proudly shows it to their parent who responds with that good but what happened to the other 5%.
- The parent that challenges a judge loudly and in front of other contestant at giving their child second place instead of first.
- The parent that harangs a child practicing for a part in a play to the point that at the audition the child fails in a puddle of tears and the parent uses this as proof of lack of trying.
We have all been with (grand)parents who are like this and for some of us we uncomfortably know ourselves to have been this type of (grand)parent..
This is how we teach that nothing but perfection is acceptable.
Demanding perfection from yourself and your family is to live in a constant state of tension, worry, conflict, anticipated embarrassment and it does not allow you to see others for who they are. We only see short comings in yourself and others and there is no joy in the process of becoming/trying. Leonard Cohen has it right...
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget you perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
If there is one life lesson I would like to pass on to my children and grandchildren it is that the process, the light, is what you will remember not the perfect/imperfect offering.