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The Gifts of Imperfection - Brené Brown - Book Summary

Current the parenting discussion are about being perfect, which has a huge resonance between that and what we actually are doing at the home. What we are is more important than what we try to teach our children.

What it means to raise children who engage with the world from a place of worthiness, feels a deep sense compassion to himself and others, who values hard work, perseverance, and respect. Who have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable and creative. Who don’t fear or are shamed when they are different or struggling. who can move through this world with a sense courage and resilience.

We can’t give our children what we don’t have - so the following guideposts are for ourselves and for our families.

Cultivating Worthiness. It means that no matter what’s gets done - I’m enough. I’m worthy of love and belonging. As parents - we should separate guilt (I’ve done something bad) and shame (I am bad - the opposite of worthiness) and reprimand the bad choice - not the child, and make sure we do this for ourselves.  We should also set up ground rules like no name calling at the house. The shame vs. guilt tendency emerges between 24 month and 8-9 years. This is important because shame tendency is correlated to depression, violence, addiction, etc.

Vulnerability - create an environment that is safe for children to express their emotions, share their struggle and be who they are and never use our vulnerability against each other (parents should work hard to prevent siblings from doing this). When we do not have the mask on - we experience our deepest shaping experiences. People that are secure and can handle uncertainty are in many cases people that saw their parents struggle and not the pretense of everything perfect. When we are secure enough in ourselves we can be compassionate and share other people’s darkest moments and be with them through it - we don’t need to “fix it” or be the fixers. We can share their moment as equals (and not from a better position). When we do this with our children - we give them an opportunity to practice and be compassionate with others. Whenever your child allows himself to be vulnerable in your presence - cherish it.

Perfectionism. The difference is that Excellence is for myself - to exceed my own standards and Perfectionism is for others. Even if this is not something you struggle with yourself - it might still exist in your children’s life as everything is photoshop and presented as perfect. Perfectionism is not an attempt to do a good job or do my best - it’s more of a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from feeling shame, guilt or criticism, and when we fail to do so - we don’t think it didn’t work - we think that we weren’t perfect enough - so we need to be more perfect next time. We should care what other people think - because we need a connection - but we shouldn’t define ourselves by what others think - and this is hard.

We cannot love our children more than we love ourselves. When we love our children - their authentic self - we create an environment of acceptance and belonging to our family. We should show our child that he is being seen - he belongs without conditions (the opposite of fitting in).

7 guideposts for choices we can make as parents.

Hope - hope is the ability to set goals, think of creative ways to pathways and agency - believing we can do it, and if it fails - find a plan b. To raise hopeful children we need to let them fail. and fail and try again until they succeed. The power of the success after so many failures is incredible. Parents should not intervene. Perseverance and tenacity are key. We need to let our children fail, experience struggle and feel disappointment. We should have fewer trophies and more constructive feedback - how we can use our strengths to achieve our goals.

Gratitude and Joy. What separates entitlement and privilege is gratitude. Be happy with what you have - that’s why these do go together. When we have more gratitude in our life we are more joyful. Gratitude is work. We need to actively add gratitude practices in the family (gratitude journal, saying grace, etc)

Boundaries - set, respect and teach our children how to set boundaries. We should not be friends with our children. Children are hardwired to push limits, and children that push limits have better results, so we as parents need to hold them. Children feel better when their parents are strict and they feel that setting boundaries equals caring, and children later break their own boundaries in the same way we do (If we give in to “social pressure” - because if everyone is doing it - so will they).

Creativity - doing imperfect things that are individual. There is no such thing as “creative people”. There are just people who use creativity and some that don’t, and people that don’t - become filled with rage and grief. We need to create a safe and inviting environment for exploration and creativity. The creativity slump occurs when children start to compare to others, so we, as parents, want to engage with our children in creation at the home to help them overcome the creativity slump.

Play - Time spent without purpose with no inhibition. We need to feel that we lose time (not board games). See what is play for you. The opposite of play - is not work - It’s depression.

Importance of respect and hard work. When we save our children from failure - we teach them that hard work is not important.  Show our children the effort that we make - not only share the success - also the journey to achieve it. We should show them that it’s hard and that we want to quit, but we don’t.

Being cool is our need for belonging, and it penetrates the family in destructive ways. We don’t want our children to change their behavior and engage in dangerous activities. So we need to allow uncoolness at the home: be silly, Tell dumb jokes and dance.

There are different ways to parent, and there is no such thing as perfect parenting. You should just be engaged, and not judge others for their parenting - even if it’s very different than your parenting.


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