My friend and mentor Dolores Reig has raised her children, run a Montessori school, and now writes books and coaches parents. As she says, she’s a “mother, grandmother, wife, educator, consultant, counselor, workshop presenter, musician, songwriter, and child advocate.”
Some people want to enlighten you–or beat you over the head–with their mantras and parenting styles. Not Dolores. She affirms your parenting in a way that makes you feel like you’ve already got the goods, and you should stop feeling bad.
I would like to carry her, in a little bag of dark chocolate and raspberries, in my satchel.
Recently she told me, “Your best is not really necessary, and we don’t really know what the best is. And having done it, and done it ‘the best,’ I realize the mistakes I made.”
Dolores and I are part of what we like to call “an avante-garde, online discipleship group” that talks once a month via conference call. She and I were the first ones on the call in October, so I told her about how I try not to take on parenting guilt, but I do.
“You’ll always see someone doing it a little differently, and it will cause you to question yourself,” said Dolores.
She encouraged me to trust myself above all the best-practices chatter.
She said, “Natural parenting. I’m really advocating natural parenting now. You parent with an underlying ease and joy in discovery.
“One of the worst things a parent can take on is guilt, because it seeps into the children. You DO know what you’re doing, so let the guilt go.”
“Children need to believe that their parents know what they’re doing so they can develop a sense of trust and faith in their ability to care for them–small, inadequate, and dependent as they are.”
And this is my favorite part:
“However, as we all know, perfection is an imperfect and impossible ideal. Imperfect in that it diminishes the natural human capacity for growth and evolution over a lifetime, and impossible because as an ideal, the meaning of perfection reflects an individual’s values and experiences.
“Children need to see adults, and parents in general, make mistakes, get it wrong, be confused, uncertain at times, and then work it out. The ‘work it out’ does not go for ‘perfection,’ it goes for ‘good enough,’ and it shows the child–in real time and in his own world–that getting it wrong, or making mistakes is NOT ‘the end of the world.’ Adults need to model that we are all, children and adults, works in process.”
She’s right. Perfection is an impossible goal, and even though I would tell you that I’ve given up Perfection in fits and starts over the past four years, my subconscious still steals lusty, furtive glances towards her, not wanting to give up such a deep (and destructive) love.
I hope to share more conversations with Dolores. In the meantime, find her online here. And if you have thoughts or questions you’d like to engage with Dolores on, leave a note in the comments.