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17 June 2021School Psychologist Blogs
14 June 2021
After the COVID-19 pandemic, the International School Psychology Association (ISPA) is resuming its normal functioning. An example of this is the Annual Conference which will once again take place in July (this year in a hybrid format). Therefore, as we count down to the Conference, several of ISPA’s Committees and Task Forces are finalizing key documents that they have been working on for some time.
One of our most important documents is the ISPA Code of Ethics. It describes ethical principles and standards of conduct, and serves as a set of guidelines for school psychology practice, training, and research. Our Code of Ethics exemplifies what clients, policy makers and other stakeholders can expect from school psychologists. It was approved by the ISPA General Assembly in 1991 and revised in 2011. Now it is time to have another look at the document and also address a number of issues and ethical challenges that school psychologists have been facing in the past ten years. The Code is important for every school and educational psychologist, and especially for those colleagues who are practicing in countries where no national code of ethics is available.
The Ethics Committee has been working on a revision of ISPA’s Code of Ethics since 2018. Jürg Forster, Rina Chittooran and Patrick Carney led the process and present here a revised version for discussion among ISPA members. Several paragraphs of the code have remained unchanged, and others have been amended. The new version now also covers topics such as mental health, equity, inclusion, sustainable well-being, social media, bullying, cyber-bullying, evidence-based recommendations, strengths and resources, child-friendly practices and non-discriminating language. This documents: the Code of Ethics revision 2021 as well as the Code of Ethics of 2011 are published on our website.
Given the importance of the topic, the Ethics Committee and the ISPA Executive Committee encourage all current members to read the revised code and comment on it. For this purpose, a forum will be set up in the Members’ section of the website (click here) as of June 10, 2021. Comments and questions regarding the revised Code of Ethics may be posted in the forum by July 1, and the version to be submitted to the General Assembly will be published on the website by July 10.
The Ethics Committee will host a Zoom meeting for all ISPA members on June 16, 7:00 to 8:30 pm (London time), where the revised Code of Ethics will be presented and discussed. Current ISPA members can register for this meeting by clicking on this hyperlink. Another opportunity to discuss the revision will be the Ethics Committee meeting at the Conference, which is open to all conference registrants. The final vote regarding the revised Code of Ethics will take place during the Conference at the ISPA General Assembly on July 15, 2021.
Please take part in this important moment for our association.
Vítor Alexandre Coelho,
President, International School Psychology Association (2019-2021)
The post Revision of ISPA’s Code of Ethics – Call for Discussion appeared first on ISPA.
14 June 2021
June 13, 2021SHARE:
Have you ever regretted the choices you’ve made in life? In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed regrets everything, believing she is insignificant and of no use to anyone. She can’t even properly care for her cat, which happens to be the last straw in her state of despair. Nora wishes to die.
Then Nora enters the mysterious midnight library where she finds Mrs. Elm, the school librarian she always found so comforting. This library is perpetually stuck at midnight and Mrs. Elm offers Nora the elaborate choice of books on shelves galore that allow Nora to undo every possible regret and live out a set of different choices. Nora takes full advantage of the opportunity to alter her life’s trajectory even through unsuspected dangers.
I personally related well to this exploration of how we evaluate the value of our existence and ponder what it means to live a good life. I encourage you to read this story all the way through to fully grasp a new perspective you can apply to your own life, choices, and the value of the smallest of things we often overlook.
12 June 2021
June 11, 2021SHARE:
When I was in my early twenties, I accepted a position at a group home for teenagers who were wards of the state. I enjoyed the work and saw promise and potential in the kids immediately. They had been dealt a most rotten hand in life and their behavior only reflected the traumatic early start they’d endured.
After a few weeks, I had bonded with the children and felt welcome by the team, but was constantly reminded that I had not finished college. I had no chance of promotion or other work that would help me make a decent wage or offer me professional challenge.
A few months in and we became so short staffed, I was constantly called in to work on my days off. I began to feel like life was somewhere far away. All I knew was night shifts followed by awkward sleep and back to another shift where kids sometimes attacked staff and each other. I had to be on guard constantly and run a tight unit to prevent trouble. Staying alert to threats nonstop had begun to wear on me to the point that I had developed a tightness in my chest and headaches. Drained of energy, I faced each day wondering how I could manage to go on like that. After nine months, I snapped. I gave my notice and left town to go back to college.
Burnout is described as emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion due to ongoing stress. The extenuating factors that draw a person into burnout are the ones I remember experiencing first hand. That trapped sensation can feel like the life is being squeezed right out of you. I couldn’t work my way up or escape the thought of work everywhere I turned.
It was hard to see progress in the kids and I felt as if I didn’t have a say in my schedule or our working conditions. That constant worry of having to protect the kids from one another and myself held me captive in a constant state of worry.
I’m the first to admit that job is not for the sensitive or anxious type and I know a different type of person would thrive in that position. But it did teach me a great deal and fueled my ambition to return to school.
Burnout is an experience that can seep into our lives temporarily or can be our companion long-term.
During the past year or so, working conditions have divided into two camps. Many individuals have worked to that point of exhaustion under the cloud of worry and anxiety while others have been underemployed or unemployed.
The medical field, educators, and hundreds of us deemed as essential workers (we are all essential as humans) have soldered on somehow, keeping us afloat. It takes all of us in communities giving our best every day to make this world work.
If you have experienced that choke of dread going to work or feel that you are not in control of your future, you may need to examine your circumstances.
Knowing something is temporary is a way we can cope with bleak situations for a while. But when it grinds on and on or you feel trapped indefinitely, you need to rethink circumstances for your own sake.
Some possible avenues of dealing with burnout may save your health and contribute to your level of fulfillment in life. Although no job is going to be perfectly balanced in terms of challenge and workload at all times, if you unable to adjust to the demands and see a mismatch in your demeanor and work expectations, you may want to consider how to find a more suitable position. That’s exactly what I did and love my work today.
Other methods of coping include setting boundaries. You may be allowing yourself to be trampled on and simply need to stand up for yourself as I should have done back then.
Making sure you have breaks you can look forward to and other interests to lift your spirits and most importantly, define who you really are. Developing a passion for something like a sport or creative pursuit helps balance the demands for our energy. If you have a physically demanding job, try cultivating a more relaxed set of interests such as gardening, joining a book club, or writing.
If you feel discouraged at work try speaking to someone you trust about how you could gain more control of your environment or manage your tasks in chunks that are more manageable. If you are working your way to a more desirable position, keep your goal visible and employ stress relief strategies to keep your mind and body healthy. Journaling, speaking to a therapist, treating yourself to a spa or bouquet of flowers, or spending time in nature are a few ideas.
Burnout is a real thing that can threaten your livelihood. Don’t let it steal your joy. I encourage you to seek a solution today.
10 June 2021
June 6, 2021SHARE:
Ordinary Grace is one of those novels that wraps you up in a time period with vivid details as told from the perspective of Frank Drum, looking back on his thirteenth summer in 1961. The setting of New Bremen, Minnesota represents typical American small towns with networks of community linking the church, schools, police, and everyday citizens together.
During this particular summer, young Frank experiences a series of tragedies in a location that historically felt safe. As a pastor’s middle son, Frank is an integral part of every situation, which is quite fitting for a boy in his day. When disaster darkens Frank’s own door, he is forced to internalize loss as never before and observe how the adults in his life live out the “grace of God” he has always heard about from the church pew.
I sincerely enjoyed the markers of this beautiful and innocent time within the mind of a boy exploring his beliefs and identity. As with many of my favorite reads, this one covers relevant issues and culminates in a finish that will keep you thinking about your own journey as you leave Frank and the New Bremen community behind.
05 June 2021How Do We Keep Creating After Soul Crushing Rejection?
June 4, 2021SHARE:
A few weeks after sending out another batch of query materials, I received a bit of feedback. The first of which was a three line form letter that quickly got the point across. My work was not for them. A couple of hours later, my email check gave me another letter with – you guessed it – rejection. But this one was a chunky paragraph suggesting I should keep revising and submitting to agents because the premise held promise. I immediately threw my arm up with a squeal.
Does this sound familiar? For most writers, the phase of searching for an agent or publisher takes a plethora of qualities that may have nothing to do with your craft and connections. Actors, salespersons, film-makers, photographers, artists, and every creative genius running about hope to measure up to a standard or at least get noticed in their field.
The embarrassing part for me, is that later that day I drove home from a visit with family in the gloomy rain with only my thoughts. All the rejections I’d piled up with repeated queries after personalizing each one, researching the appropriate agents, and responding to requests for partial and full manuscripts that only ended in disappointment; floated through my thoughts. But there was another issue that had me ruminating in despair.
Since my journey began, the most difficult part of requesting representation for my work is not the rejection letter. Sure, that stings, but the bigger issue is no response at all. It’s like a slow leak in your balloon that ends up in the corner, totally deflated. I suppose it’s a little easier to pop the balloon and throw it away.
By the time I steered my car into the driveway, I was marred in the jungle of self-pity.
According to research, being ignored IS worse than outright rejection. In the April 2021 issue of Psychology Today, Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. explains how indifference can be more painful than rejection. When we are ignored, we experience a more significant hit to our psyche. That explains why I celebrate a little when I get a kind rejection letter. I feel that I’ve been found worthy of the agent’s time.
Realistically, agents can’t respond to hundreds of requests and consumers can’t buy every product. We have to learn to cope with the stinger and the silent treatment.
The trick is to develop a strategy or coping mechanism that will help us endure that prickly hit to the gut or the slow fade of hope. Unfortunately, living the creative life includes weathering it all; rejection, criticism, change, and many steps to success.
One step toward that success isn’t just perseverance. It begins with adjusting the goal you have to climb along the rungs of success to include steps you can control. Rather than focusing only on publishing or selling your creation, consider producing more and/or learning additional skills.
For example, I sat in a writing conference once, when a gentleman told the presenter he had submitted a manuscript over 200 times. She politely told him that he may want to seek assistance with revising or learning how to improve his writing. I couldn’t agree more. Even best-selling authors, actors, and producers have to keep learning and growing or their creations are reduced to memories.
The next time you have poured your soul into a creation you then send off for someone’s judgement, separate yourself from your “baby” enough to see that your work is not you and is a reflection of you that will change in time. Allow yourself (even welcome) a period of grief when getting disappointing news.
Check your goals to make sure they are within your control. Re-engage in the medium you are committed to with a work in progress or a skill building exercise. Feeling that writing muse flowing through your veins can lighten your spirits.
Also, toughen your skin in order to accept meaningful criticism that will improve your outcomes in the future. Maintaining an attitude of humility and adopting a growth mindset will help us avoid too many moments spent in the jungle of self-pity.
A final suggestion for coping with disappointment in any industry is to not go it alone. Most creative passions are completed in solitude, but we are social beings. We need others to comfort us, cheer us on, and even kick us in the rump from time to time. If an accomplishment were easy, it wouldn’t mean so much would it? I encourage you to find, rekindle, or increase your inner joy in your pursuits. That way, at least you will have fun during the journey to your mountaintop. What could be better than that?
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04 June 2021
We would like to invite school psychologists to our free webinar about the panel discussion on psychoeducational evaluations of students with visual impairments.
BVIPsych Couch Chat Webinar
Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2021
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM PT
(1 PM – 2:30 PM MT, 2 PM – 3:30 PM CT, 3 PM – 4:30 PM ET)
Did you catch the workshops in May 2021 about evaluating students with visual impairments?
- Collaborative Psychoeducational Assessments: Visually Impaired Teachers & Evaluators Working Together by Dr. Terese Pawletko and Dr. Carol Evans
- Collaborative Evaluation: Working Together by Marnee Loftin
- Psychoeducational Evaluations of Students with Visual Impairmentsby CSB’s Assessment Center team: Stephanie Herlich, Shelby Zimmerman, Rebecka Henry, and May Nguyen
If you want to learn more about psychoeducational evaluations of students with visual impairments, please send us your questions and join us for a panel discussion with Dr. Terese Pawletko, Dr. Carol Evans, Marnee Loftin, Dr. Julie Manning, and May Nguyen. Based on the questions submitted thus far, the topics that will be discussed include:
- When to use visual stimuli
How to evaluate for specific learning disability or dyslexia with a student with visual impairments
How to assess for intellectual disability with a blind or low vision student
How to test a student with visual impairments who also has limited oral language skills
How to evaluate a student with deafblindness
If you have other questions, please submit them when you register for the event. Anyone who is interested in learning about psychoeducational evaluations and visual impairments is welcome! You do not need to be a school psychologist or a member of BVIPsych to attend this webinar. Please feel free to share with anyone who may be interested.
Register to attend!
The post free webinar on psychoeducational evaluations of students with visual impairments appeared first on ISPA.
04 June 2021
The Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP) strives to foster a global perspective within APA and within the psychology community. It facilitates exchanges between psychologists in the U.S. and colleagues abroad, promotes a global perspective within psychology, and encourages involvement of psychology in international program, policy, and educational settings. To this end, CIRP sponsors an award for the most outstanding psychology dissertation on global communities.
The deadline to apply is June 15, 2021. Read more here: https://www.apa.org/about/awards/cirp-dissertation-award
04 June 2021
by Angela Fernandez, School Psychologist
Although Mental Health Awareness Month has come to an end, the need for awareness and acceptance of mental illness has not. I encourage you to read on to learn more about mental illness, stigma, and steps you can take to help end the stigma associated with mental illness.
Let’s first talk about what it means to have a mental illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2021), a mental illness is a condition defined by a combination of changes in thought patterns, emotions, and behavior that cause distress and/or dysfunction in social, family, and/or school/work activities.
But I’m not aware of anyone who has a mental illness, so it must not be THAT common, right? Wrong! Mental illnesses are very common. So far in 2021, 19% of adults in the United States of America are experiencing a mental illness. That is over 47 million Americans (Mental Health America, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive, 2021)! Children are also affected by mental illness. In 2016, 16.5% of American children ages 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder. That is around 7.7 million children (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2021)! Keep in mind that these numbers do not include Substance Abuse Disorders or unreported/undiagnosed mental illnesses. It is likely that there are many individuals who are experiencing a mental illness who have not received a diagnosis or who have not accessed support… This means that mental illnesses are likely under-reported.
Now let’s talk about stigma. You have probably heard the term before, but what does it mean? According to the American Psychiatric Association (2021), stigma around mental illness can be defined as the negative views or feelings towards individuals with mental illness. These may lead to fear, mistreatment, and the spread of false information or beliefs about individuals with mental illness. Stigma is often caused by a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what it means to have a mental health condition, as well as false portrayals of what it “looks like” by the media. Stigma is typically thought of as coming from others. However, self-stigma also exists. There are negative feelings, ideas, and beliefs that individuals with mental illness may have about their own mental health or condition. Individuals with mental illness may have feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt because of stigma.
Is this stigma a serious problem? It would take an entire book to touch on all the reasons why stigma around mental illness is a serious problem. One of the biggest reasons is that more than half of individuals living with mental illness do not get support or help for their illness due to their concern of how they might be viewed if they do (Mental Health America, 2021). Cultural values may also impact someone’s decision to seek treatment. Untreated mental illnesses can be debilitating and have the potential to lead to exacerbated symptoms and even suicide.
How Can You Help?
- Educate Yourself and Others.
Stigma often comes from a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding about mental illness. By educating yourself on mental illnesses, you will develop a greater understanding of different conditions, their symptoms, and treatments. You will learn about different resources available. You will also learn how to best support individuals who are living with these conditions. Having this knowledge will help fight any stigma you may have around mental illnesses, whether it be implicit (outside of your immediate awareness) or explicit (within your awareness). Additionally, you will be able to identify false information and beliefs that you may hear being spread. By educating yourself on mental illness, you are becoming more equipped to disrupt this chain of false ideas being spread that contribute to the stigma. If you find yourself in this situation, take the opportunity to share facts. Keep in mind that it is very possible (and likely) that those feeding the stigma may not be doing it with ill intent. They might not even realize they are doing it at all! For this reason, I suggest you share facts in a non-confrontational, non-judgemental manner.
- Talk Openly About It.
Talking openly about mental illness helps to make the topic less taboo. Many people feel that they cannot or should not talk about mental health. The more you talk about it, the more it normalizes it. It’s possible that talking with others about your own personal experiences with mental health could make them feel more comfortable to open up, too. You could be the first person that has talked to them about it. Hearing your experiences might help them feel more supported and less alone. You could be the reason someone feels heard or decides to get help!
- Treat Physical and Mental Health Equally.
Mental health IS just as important as physical health, and it should be treated as such! We live in a society that is comfortable with the idea of taking a day or two off for being physically ill but uncomfortable taking time off to prioritize mental wellbeing. Fortunately, society seems to be moving in the right direction and “mental health days” are becoming more popular/accepted. However, there still seems to be more guilt and shame associated with taking a mental health day than with taking a day off for a physical illness. Learning about the ways mental health and physical health are connected will help to fight those feelings of shame or guilt. Declining mental health is associated with declining physical health and vice versa. Advocate for the importance of your mental health and the mental health of others! No one should feel shame for taking care of their mental health.
Our words have power. Sometimes they have more power than we realize! That is why it is important that we try to be cognizant of our word choices. There are expressions we have heard for so long that, as a result, we don’t naturally think twice about the meanings behind them. A couple of examples include saying something is making you “crazy”, calling the weather “bipolar”, saying that someone is “so OCD” because they are tidy, and saying that something unpleasant makes you “want to kill yourself”. These are just a few examples of hurtful expressions that use mental illnesses in derogatory ways. When reading these examples, you might notice that the common theme in each of them is that mental illnesses are being used to describe something that is viewed negatively. Using language like this adds to the stigma around mental illness. You may find that you use one of these expressions yourself, and it is likely that you have never thought too deeply about it. It is OKAY that you have in the past, forgive yourself. What is important is that you do your best to be mindful of the language you use from here on out. I will admit that I have personally been working to catch myself using “crazy” as a descriptor. It has been a part of my vocabulary for so many years before it was brought to my attention, and as a result, using it has become a habit. When I catch myself using it, I apologize and then correct myself with a different word that is more appropriate (and less hurtful) for what I am trying to express. It may not be easy and you might find yourself slipping up, but what is important is that you are aware and are working to get better! If you hear others using mental illnesses in derogatory ways, bring it to their attention. They might not realize that their words are hurtful or that they are contributing to the stigma. I challenge you to actively listen for these expressions/phrases and to take action when you do.
- Pay Attention to the Language You Use.
I hope that this blog has inspired you to take an active role in breaking the stigma! Millions of people are counting on you to speak up and advocate.
Spread awareness, spread acceptance, spread facts, and spread love! Together we can create a world that is more accepting and supportive!
02 June 2021
The American Psychological Foundation places a premium on developing psychological talent. Find out more about APF’s upcoming grants, awards, and scholarships.
2021 Kenneth B. and Mamie P. Clark Fund: $8,000
Due June 15, 2021
$8,000 to support research and demonstration activities that promote the understanding of the relationship between self-identity and academic achievement with an emphasis on children in grade levels K-8.
Eligibility: The 2021 grant will support an early career psychologist.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/clark-fund
Div. 39 McCary Psychoanalysis Grant
2021 Div. 39 Psychoanalysis Grant: $6,000
Due June 15, 2021
$6,000 to support efforts in education, research and service that advance and encourage the field of psychoanalysis. Special consideration will be given to proposals related to COVID-19 and/or Racism.
Eligibility: Applicants must have a demonstrated knowledge of psychoanalytic principles and have a long-term interest in communicating to the public the value of psychoanalytic principles and/or treatments. Applicants may be practicing psychoanalytic therapists, but this is not a requirement.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/division-39
2021 APF Graduate Student Scholarships/ ‘COGDOP’: $5,000
Due June 30, 2021
$2,000 to $5,000 general scholarships for graduate students in psychology. The purpose of this scholarship program is to assist graduate students of psychology with research costs associated with the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.
Each graduate department of psychology that is a member of COGDOP may approve applicants. The number of applicants that each member department is allowed to approve depends upon the total number of students enrolled in the graduate program.
Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in an interim master’s program or doctoral program are eligible to apply. If a student is currently enrolled in a terminal master’s program, the student must intend to enroll in a PhD program. Students at any stage of graduate study are encouraged to apply.
Applicants must be currently enrolled in the graduate program at the time grants are awarded (2021- 2022 academic year).
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/cogdop
List of COGDOP Members: https://www.cogdop.org/member_services/members_by_state
2021 Marian R. Stuart Grant: $20,000
Due July 1, 2021
Up to $20,000 to further the research, practice, or education of an early career psychologist on the connection between mental and physical health, particularly for work that contributes to public health.
Eligibility: Applicants must be early career researchers no more than 10 years postdoctoral. Preference will be given to psychologists working in medical schools.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/stuart-grant
2021 Sharon Stephens Brehm Undergrad Psych Scholarships: $5,000
Due July 1, 2021
The Sharon Stephens Brehm Undergraduate Psychology Scholarships will recognize outstanding psychology undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The Brehm Scholarships will help defray the students’ direct educational costs (e.g. tuition, institutional fees, required textbooks, etc.). Six $5,000 scholarships are available. Funding will be available to recipients for the spring 2022 semester.
Eligibility: Applicants must be undergraduate students majoring in psychology at an accredited college or university. Applicants must be enrolled as declared psychology majors for the Fall 2021 semester. Since funding is available during the Spring 2022 semester, applicants must plan to be enrolled during the Spring 2022 semester.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/brehm
2021 David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant: $7,500
Due September 15, 2021
Up to $7,500 to support innovative basic and clinical research on anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.
Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students or early career researchers no more than 10 years postdoctoral.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/barlow
2021 Bruce and Jane Walsh Grant in Memory of John Holland: $17,500
Due September 15, 2021
$17,500 to support the investigation of how personality, culture, and environment influence work behavior and health.
Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students or early career researchers no more than 10 years postdoctoral. Preference will be given to early-career psychologists.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/walsh
2021 Div. 42 Steven O. Walfish Competition: $2,250
Due September 30, 2021
Applicants are required to submit manuscripts on clinical, practical, or research innovations that address evolving standards, practices, and methods in psychological practice.
Priority considerations will be given to candidates whose research addresses the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; considerations and impact of telehealth, including but not limited to the practice of telehealth during COVID-19; cultural and ethnic issues bearing on providing psychological services to individuals and groups.
Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students or early career psychologists no more than 10 years postdoctoral. Applicants must submit a manuscript that has not been previously published. In the case of multi-authored manuscripts, the role of each co-author should be described, and the award candidate’s role must be primary.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/walfish
2021 Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant: $10,000
Due October 1, 2021
The Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant supports graduate and early career work that seeks to increase the public’s understanding of the psychological pain and stigma experienced by adults living with visible physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.
Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time graduate students in good standing at an accredited university or early career psychologists no more than 10 years postdoctoral.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/pearsall
2021 Div. 54 Lizette Peterson-Homer Injury Prevention Grant: $5,000
Due October 15, 2021
$5,000 for research on the prevention of injuries in children and adolescents through accidents, violence, abuse, or suicide.
Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students or faculty members at an accredited university.
More information: https://www.apa.org/apf/funding/peterson-homer
26 May 2021
May 26, 2021SHARE:
As we pass between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day it’s natural to reflect on your own experience as a child and at the same time ponder our own parenting approach. Many of us worry and agonize over the decisions we make for our children and the methods we use to teach them values and just about everything else. From day one, taking responsibility for a human is a monumental challenge and comes with an extremely wide range of advice that contradicts almost as often as food reports.
Personally, I set out to parent with a compulsion for perfection. I felt such heavy guilt if I had to leave the kids with a sitter and heaven help me if one of them pushed another child, wiggled too much for the teacher, or left their math book at school. It was as if I messed up.
That didn’t really get better when they missed curfew, hit another car in the high school parking lot or failed a big test. It was as if I had made a mistake that caused their misstep. I suppose I thought I was ultimately responsible for providing the best environment, food, neighborhood, school, moral training, and don’t even get me started on healthy food. I grew organic food, cooked big homemade meals, and worried nonstop about their nutrition.
What was I missing?
Although hindsight is far clearer, I have learned a few things. My desire for perfection was misguided. Children need a good parent, but probably not a perfect parent. I obviously was not perfect, in fact, I was far from it. But what we know now is that parenting should take on a realistic and balanced approach to life.
I set myself up for failure and the horrible experience of constant guilt. Guilt leads to shame and all the anxiety and worrying is unproductive and most of all unattainable. There simply isn’t a perfect parent.
According to Jessica CombsRohr, Ph.D. in the April 2021 edition of Psychology Today, “Aiming for mistake-free parenting means that performance is more important than meeting their needs.”
I wish I had understood that early on in my parenting journey. Good enough parenting is a more realistic goal that allows us to include balance in our lives. Doing the best we can and allowing ourselves to acknowledge that we fall short sometimes is doable. Meeting our children’s needs includes showing them how to admit mistakes and give life our best effort moving forward.
The consequences of parenting with the goal of perfection can be mentally and physically harmful for parents and children. Parents can become anxious, resentful, or secretly want to escape during the stress of caring for children. Although these feelings are normal in the midst of life, a perfectionistic parent heaps on layers of guilt. As you might imagine, children can sense these reactions from their parent and mirror their responses as they develop.
What all children need is a trusted adult to nurture, guide, and protect them. If a child knows someone unconditionally loves them, they are more likely to explore and develop the confidence they need for success.
Relationships are built on flexibility and a mixture of emotions and experiences. I encourage you to aim for connection with your family in a real and sometimes messy world.