We spend our days chasing it, running from it, and fearing it. Perfection.
We are driven to be flawless (how dare we attempt anything less?!) in how we present ourselves, how we treat others, how we raise our kids, and how we perform at work.
Ahh Perfection! The Holy Grail of parenting, marriage, and self.
It’s a crock! Perfection is a fudgin' fallacy.
NEWSFLASH: Perfection is unachievable and, when you do get close, you will discover that it's nothing worth writing home about. Being perfect actually makes you boring.
Has anyone ever told you how "perfect" your home looks? How you have the seemingly "perfect" marriage? And those kids of yours! Though I am sure you hear this much left often, they just behave so "perfectly" all of the time.
Parents who never mess up don't exist, but parents who show up, mess up, apologize, and show up AGAIN actually promote stability (and teach their children resilience) even when they feel they are contributing to the chaos.
When parents take the time to own their own mishaps, to explain moments of imperfection -- theirs, yours, or one in their immediate or extended environment -- we are laying down layers and layers in their foundation.
Second NEWSFLASH: the key is being well-rounded and being someone who wants to be better because they simply want to be better; not for fame, not for success, and not for recognition. And, maybe, just maybe, the most perfect of parents are the ones that are raising their children in that same light.
In this episode of 'I am the Worst Parent Ever' Podcast, Robert and Nicole ask if our perfectionist tendencies rub-off or get passed-down to our children? Is perfectionism a negative quality or the character trait of the successful? Listen in to be reminded that children are innately forgiving, but how they also imitate what is exemplified for them.
Marshall Swift’s simple declaration stopped me in my tracks. It was one of those slow-motion moments that hit extra-hard because I was feeling lower than low. "You should talk more. You have great ideas" was the knockout statement that I (Robert) received from my professor during my training in psychology. I admit that I was blindsided by this educator's comment. I really didn’t know what to make of it.
Have you ever received a compliment or encouragement that you couldn’t just brush off? (Robert is proud to share the full story in his recent TEDx talk, ‘Embrace Your Superpowers’)
How do you express how awesome your child is and how much faith you have in their brilliance? Sharing your pride or saying "I love you" is awesome, but it's overused and sometimes lacks luster. "Good job" is nice, but who wants to merely be doing "good"?
How would you tell your daughter (or son) that her words, perspective, feelings, and opinions really MATTER, that you believe that she has greatness to contribute to this world?
Try getting more curious. Ask questions. Then try, "You should talk more. You have great ideas." We cannot think of an expression that would be more effective.
When someone takes the time to go beyond surface-level kindness jargon, it makes a difference. You can make that person feel like they matter. You can be a huge motivator, and it can benefit you and the receiver of the encouraging remark.
For a very long time, as Robert shares in his TEDx talk, he hid his voice instead of finding it and using it, as so many of us did (or still do).
Nicole also talks about finding and using your voice. In fact, she wrote an article, ‘Dear Little Girl with the Smart Mouth,’ to encourage young girls and all children to learn and abide by 'smart mouth' rules such as spreading kindness, not hate or negativity, always speaking the truth, being mindful before you speak, never allowing yourself to be silenced by someone else’s voice and many others.
Ask yourself these questions (even when you are speaking with other adults):
Are you and your children on the same channel?
Are you listening as much as you are talking?
In this episode of the ‘I Am the Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert suggests strategies for encouraging an engaged conversation partner, be it another adult or your pint-sized offspring.
Listen in to hear Robert’s and Nicole’s take on how and why adults must find and use their voice and how to raise children who know how to speak up, banter, and listen.
You’ll never hear Nicole raise her voice to her kids… at least not when they’re out shopping at Publix! Does she yell at home sometimes? Sure, but not out in public. If we can’t keep our composure across different settings, why do we expect our kids to be as good at home as they are at school?
Their teacher says, “She’s so helpful.” We pick them up from playdates to hear, “Your kids are SO polite!” They MUST use up all their character strengths of kindness and helpfulness during the school day because once they get in the car or cross the threshold of our home, they flip into Crazy Mode. All that good behavior and politeness is LONG GONE. Was it an act? Did they use it all up?
Where did it go?
Nicole is careful not to criticize the kid but chooses instead to label the behavior. She admits that she is quick to blame herself: “Before I became a parent, I just never realized how much MY behavior and My actions affected my kids.”
She knows that each of her kids want and need AND DESERVE her full attention. But there is only one of her at any given moment. She can’t give them all the love and attention they need.
She and Robert both know that a mom’s and dad’s behavior is a determining factor in how their kids behave. But it is NOT the CAUSE. Kids are still their own agents, makers of their own decisions, drivers of their own actions.
So she thinks like a teacher. She restates the rules at home, she creates more structure, and she sets up incentives like the ones her kids get at school. But nothing really changes.
When none of that works, Nicole repeats her favorite mantra: “This, too, shall pass.”
In this episode of the ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, listen in to hear how you can get some outside perspective that can help you influence your kids’ behavior. Take a step back and don’t let it make you crazy. That way you can begin see what your kids’ behavior looks like through their eyes. If you can meet them where they are, you have a much better chance of guiding change.
Moms aren’t the only ones teaching our kids to be sassy. Dads can lay on the sarcasm pretty thick. Well, maybe not all dads, but quite a few.
Robert suggests that sarcasm is just "negativity and joking come out sideways." So does that make it wrong to use in front of our children?
Nicole's husband is very sarcastic, inspiring her to write an article about "the sarcastic parent" where she raised the question “Is appropriate for parents to use sarcasm in the home?”
Our conclusion: While we absolutely do not believe sarcasm should be eliminated from the home environment, you must make sure that you dole it out in an age-appropriate way for your offspring. You are also required to show up when your kids have questions to explain and expand on your quips (yes, even if it “ruins the joke”).
Nicole and Robert agree that the ability to banter and engage all kinds of people in dialogue is an essential life skill for the young people we all are raising. What better way for kids to practice their social bantering skills than in the home with their parents?
In this episode of the ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole go even further to discuss how storytelling is a super-effective way to help children learn. BUT -- think about yourself -- do you want to listen to a boring story or one laced with humor and different tones? Write in to let us know at email@example.com.
Are you responsible for the house, the errands, the kids, the finances, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning? If you hear one more person brag about their daily morning yoga and meditation and lemon water, do you want to mail them 500 lemons out of spite?
“I have no time” IS Nicole's anthem. When she makes her plea for time, it bugs the crap out of her husband. He thinks she wastes time worrying. If she would just calm her anxiety the f**k down (of course, he says it much nicer) and block her time better, he thinks that she would easily find time for #allthethings.
Let’s be honest here. Every day, as easily as pouring a glass of wine, we fill 20 minutes with Pinterest, Netflix, gossip, or social media. With a little effort, we could also find 20 minutes for exercise, mindfulness, reading a book, swimming, or taking a walk -- whatever we desire.
If you are the over-busy parent who finally feels like she has built a system for getting s**t done that works, you might protest, “now you want me to throw a wrench and break the whole damn thing?!”
It’s super difficult for any of us to switch our familiar routine for a new one, even if we know it will help us do the right things. Why? BECAUSE WE HAVE NO TIME!!
In this episode of the ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole discuss the ways we have control of our time and the ways we don't.
Why is it SO HARD to say you’re sorry? Nicole admits that she’s miserly with her apologies towards those she loves, specifically her children and her husband. However, she goes almost overboard with asking forgiveness from friends and acquaintances, even strangers. Sometimes it takes all of her energy to dole out a “sorry" but it flows freely from her tongue like a reflex to TOTAL strangers, even when there is NOTHING to be forgiven!
How often do you apologize and how easily does it come for you? Are you ever #sorrynotsorry? Does it depend on the person whom you are giving your expression of remorse?
Robert and Nicole believe it is uber-important for our children, and us parents, to know how to say “sorry” in a way that restores and repairs the relationship.
Even though she struggles with apologizing to those who deserve it, Nicole regularly expects her children to say “sorry” be it on their own, or on her command. According to Nicole, “we can’t let our kiddos off the hook for negative behavior, right?”
But… is her goal to make her kids feel guilty or to teach them about empathy? Does apologizing mean that one person is right and the other is wrong? When you apologize, is it to rid yourself of guilt or is it freeing to give yourself compassion for a misstep?
In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole explore when saying “sorry” feels like a negotiation, why apologizing makes us feel weak, and discuss how we can set a bad example for our children when we struggle with apologies.
Robert and Nicole are SO SORRY (not sorry) for leaving you wondering what else we discussed in this podcast, but invite you to check out the rest of our conversation at the link below.
How much of the news should your kids see? How do you explain topics like terrorism, mass shootings, politics, healthcare, and mental health to your kids? Not to mention religion and sex!
Your answer probably depends upon your core beliefs and the age and intellectual development of your child. When you are ready to draw the curtain back on the outside world, no matter how old your child is, how do you do it WITHOUT imparting (or worse forcing) your opinion upon them?
Or maybe your goal is to raise your children with certain convictions and encourage them to keep this mindset throughout their life. Robert warns that we aren’t raising robots. Consider this: it seems like every adult he knows with a strong opinion or belief is living in contrast to the way they were raised.
In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole agree that before you decide to talk about the tough topics plaguing humanity and the world, we all need to take into consideration the age, intellectual development, and the personality of our kids. However, we play an important role in guiding our kids to take in the right amount of information and helping them process it all.
When children begin contemplating these issues on their own, kids often begin with a black-or-white, all-or-nothing perspective. Our role as parents, according to Nicole and Robert, is to gently draw their attention to the gray area.
Robert can’t get enough of the political news while Nicole professes a policy of “disengage to engage.” She sees so much “gray area” (and too many people who refuse to acknowledge it) so she shields her kids from the news… and shields her own eyes and ears as well. In other words, Nicole listens more than she talks, which is a super tough skill to master. But, guess what? Some wouldn’t see the value here and criticize Nicole and the quiet, “less vocal ones” as being part of the problem. Nicole struggles with that.
How are you handling sensitive communications with your kids? Tell us your story or ask your question at firstname.lastname@example.org
If it takes a village to raise a child (it does), where the heck do you find this tribe?
Nicole quoted from Scary Mommy: “I can’t be all things to my children all the time…. They need a village of elders who can… provide nuggets of wisdom in ways that my husband and I can’t.”
As parents, it’s hard to venture out of our “silos” to make new friends. Trying to break into a new group feels like we are high school freshmen dealing with cliques in the lunchroom. Every parent seems to have a “no vacancy” sign up. It’s like they are saying, “I have enough friends, thanks.”
It also gets tricky making friends with a new family when the kids don’t match up or one spouse gets along better with their counterpart than the other.
Nicole thinks guys have it easier. Women make more friends but she thinks men seem to be more genuine with each other. She feels like #momguilt and the search for perfection, using our kids like a scorecard, creates a distance between them and the women who could add to their tribe. In her experience, moms can judge themselves AND hold themselves back, questioning, “Why would they want to be friends with me?”
In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Nicole and Robert share how to make the most of the relationships you nurture with immediate family and how you can lead with kindness and grace. They discuss where can find new adults already involved in your kids’ lives (teachers, coaches, etc.) and where tired parents can find the energy to expand the village that will help raise well-rounded kids.
How do you deal with grief in front of your children? Or do you hide it away?
Do you purposefully hide your pain and sadness, tuck your pain away? Or do you let it all out for your young (or not-so-young) children to see and process along with you?
Is one method the right one? Does it depend on the age and development of your children? Or is it right to be open in front of your kids to show them what you need to do with your grief to own it, live with it, process it, and deal with it?
It doesn’t matter what you lost — it could be big or small, from death (the loss of a person) or the loss of your home or job. It could even include the little losses you experience on the daily, like the loss of your free time or independence. When grief hits, it can come out of nowhere. We react involuntarily with unplanned authenticity. It’s good for your kids to see you be real in those moments.
Nicole admits to being a hypocrite. One minute she tells her kids to “stop crying!” before the first teardrop falls. The next minute, she cries when she can’t find her keys, when the baby is fussy, or if she burns dinner or spills the milk. When her laugh-cry fest finishes, she apologizes profusely for her tears.
If you think that you are “fooling” your kids or pulling the wool over their eyes, Robert reminds us that they are super intelligent and perceptive. Life isn’t clean and simple and if you limit your child’s exposure when things get hard, you do them a serious disservice. In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, he encourages Nicole and others to get comfortable with letting our children (and our partners) “behind the curtain.”
Check out today’s episode and let us know if you have thoughts on our grief conversation. How else do you believe a child will learn how to deal with grief or be there for someone who is struggling, other than witnessing you cry? Grief is absolutely a unique experience for every person. Coping with it as a parent does not mean hiding grief. Of course, we all need to recognize what is appropriate and when we might need an adult shoulder or professional sounding board.
What keeps parents, especially moms, from claiming their parenting or marriage mistakes? It’s probably because you can't scroll through social media without witnessing someone shaming a mom.
Moms think that they will be crucified for speaking about their missteps, knocking them out of the running for the Good Mom and Wife Club.
We read about Bad Moms, it’s all over social media. There’s even a movie about them! You have probably even unintentionally taken part in #momshaming, just to make you feel a little better about yourself.
In this episode of the ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Nicole and Robert discuss the pressure parents have to survive these days to do it all. Why does society impose these super-human expectations on mothers and what can we do to squash that way of thinking?
Fear of judgment by your mom peers, your partner, or the general public can create terrible anxiety. Is a "tough skin gene" as crucial as a "mom gene" for being a good parent these days?
Seriously, this is totally bogus! Most women (and men) have a better chance to connect with good people and find their "tribe" when they are honest about the challenges they are facing. Nobody wants to be friends with Perfect Patty or Flawless Fred.
Maybe we need to focus on the eyes and opinions of those we have birthed or married. Show gratitude to the people who are willing to swim next to you in the rough seas of parenthood without trying to drown you or criticize how you swim.
Is this podcast for you?
Have you ever said,