How to Cope with a Perfect Child
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
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Your child is perfect. She or he is beautiful, polite, a gifted student and a marvelous athlete. Your child speaks at least one other language, plays two musical instruments, and has the lead in the school play. Or not. Your child may not have accomplished anything yet but he or she is packed with potential. Your child, you see, is perfect.
And the world, you see, is not impressed.
You may find that your child’s teachers focus on his silly mistakes or, worse, they blame your child for things other kids did. Your child’s grandparents may seem to prefer the cousins, even though those kids are not nearly so talented as your child. And most amazing of all, the parents of other children might not invite your child to trips to the zoo or to their kids’ birthday parties.
It’s lonely at the top. What can you do to get your child the recognition and acclaim you know she deserves?
You get it by letting the world discover your child in its own time. Let your child’s perfection be your little secret, your private joy. It is more generous and gracious to let other parents talk about their own children, while you smile and nod. If they ask about your child, don’t say too much. You know your child is more perfect than other children but don’t let their parents know.
This is difficult, of course. But talking too much about your child and all the wonderful things he can do just makes other parents envious. They really don’t want to hear it. They want to hear you – the parent of a perfect child – exclaim over their own children. Really, they do.
And take whatever your child’s teacher says as good information, not as criticism. Your child’s teacher has the vantage point of years of experience with groups of children. She can be your ally in polishing your child and providing him with good opportunities. So you don’t want to alienate the teacher. Work together with her. Understand that what she says is for the best and is worth considering.
And one more thing: keep your child’s perfection a secret even from him. Your child’s success in life depends on his ability to get along with other people, even people who are less talented and less accomplished. Perfect people are kind and unassuming. They are not conceited or rude.
Not only that, but perfect kids may tire of all that perfection. They may find that trying all the time to live up to being the very best is exhausting and makes them sad. They won’t want to let you down but they may not appreciate the steep path you’ve put them on. Cut your child some slack. Let your child be a child.
We all want perfect children, sometimes because we don’t feel all that perfect ourselves and sometimes just because we love our children so much and want the very best for them. All this is understandable. So understand this: every parent is the parent of a perfect child.
It’s not just you.