Always Do Your Best

Mar 27, 2014

If there’s a gift I could give parents it would be to forgive themselves for not being perfect.  We love our children so much we want them to be raised by perfect parents, but we’re daily aware of the ways we’re unable to be those imagined perfect parents.

The fourth of don Miguel Ruiz’ “The Four Agreements” speaks to this drive in parents:  “Always do your best.”  Notice, the concept is not “Be perfect,” but is instead “Do your best.”

Your “best” changes from moment to moment.  Some days, we soar the heights with our kids.  Other days, we drag through the mud.  But under any circumstance, we must simply do our best in order to avoid self-judgment and regret.

Doing our best with our kids involves enjoying our life together and watching them grow without judging every step as a reflection on our parenting prowess.  If we can learn to enjoy the path traveled with our children, the destination will often take care of itself.

Some parents agonize over past mistakes.  Several years ago, one woman learned her child had been abused by his child care provider.  She’s stuck in her guilt, still accusing herself for failing to protect her son.  Her inability to forgive herself impinges on their happy family life to this day as she’s unable to move out of this one bad experience.

Other parents can hardly enjoy the present with their children for worrying about the future.  Many parents fear they won’t be able to manage their children when they hit their teen years.  Their anxiety about the future inhibits the joy they have today with their kids.

Releasing the past and future allows us to be fully alive right now, enjoying the present.  Being fully present in the moment is the single best way to engage our children, because the present moment is where kids can always be found.

The struggle for perfection is often the enemy of simply doing our best.  The happiest parents I know accept their own humanity as they accept their children’s.  They recognize that their best—while not perfect—is enough to raise a happy family.