How I realized a perfect parent does not exist

When we become parents, it seems as if everything we have been learning for years, all of a sudden becomes useless. We have Her Majesty the Baby to deal with, who came to this world without any “manual” and without any knowledge about the world around it. At that time, this tiny being seems to us as an alien. It seems as if we need immense effort to be able to understand it and communicate with it. We look at all these perfect parents who resolve everything with a single smile and we feel like an utter failure. It never crossed your mind you will ever feel that way, right? You were certain you’ll be a parent who has everything under control? I know. I did too. Welcome to the world of parenthood!

When we’re hit by the cruel reality, what every single one of us needs the most is support. Someone who will now and then say   “It’s OK” or “It happened to me too”.   All we need to know is that we’re not alone and there’s no reason for us to feel like an alien. That a single mistake we made unintentionally will not have a crucial impact on the life of our child. We need to realize that there is no perfect parent and that we should not strive towards perfection.

My husband and I found this in the “Support, not Perfection“ program carried out by the Novak Djokovic Foundation.

I am a mother of four beautiful children. As soon as people here that, many tend to think that I am an expert for children. However, I say to them right away that I perhaps have a little bit more experience than most of the people, but that the knowledge of upbringing of children is very relative. For children develop and we, as parents, develop along with them. On that road, we acquire knowledge together – children about the world around them and their position in it, and we about our children, their needs and interests. At the same time, every child is the story for themselves. That’s why I believe that nothing is universal when it comes to parenthood and that the parent needs to adapt everything to suit his children.

Tamara and her husband with their big family.

Tamara and her husband with their big family.

That’s exactly what the workshops held within the “Support, not Perfection” program have shown us. In ten workshops, we discussed various issues almost every parent comes across while taking care of their children.

And no, there was not a single reply “do this and that and it will be solved” – for there’s no magic wand. And if you think that you will be served a solution, you could not be more wrong. For all the solutions are within us and the workshops only helped us realize that.

My husband and I started attending the workshops together. We simply thought that would be the best way to see the results because we worked together on the relationship with our children.  It is very beneficial when two parents reach a common standpoint as to the manner in which they want to educate their children and what kind of mutual relations they want to build up in the family. Our youngest baby attended every workshop together with us. She was 3-months-old at the beginning of the program. She became a part of our little group in a certain way. Now, she is 6-months-old, she started to eat mash food and is a very communicative baby.

Our older three children, a boy aged 7 year and girls aged 3 and 1,5 years were playing with their teacher while we were at the workshop.

I have to admit that this is the thing that amazed me the most- that the Foundation took time to also think about the children.

Considering that we do not have grandmothers or grandfathers nor anyone else for that matter with whom we could entrust our children, this Foundation’s additional effort actually enabled us to attend the program.

Tamara enjoyed each workshop of the "Support, not perfection" program with her baby.

Tamara enjoyed each workshop of the “Support, not Perfection” program with her baby.

The group of parents that attended the program got very close as the time went by. We even started to share among ourselves some of the most difficult and intimate stories and situations when we felt completely helpless and as total failures.  Without any parent judging each other. The group also shared some nice moments, birthdays and festivities. We encouraged every success, as well as every attempt regardless of it not being successful. Sometimes these are just the things that every parent needs the most.

I can clearly remember our first workshop. We were all just sitting in quiet. We felt awkward to present ourselves to each other and a certain dose of skepticism was noticeable among us all. However, as the workshop was passing along, we were becoming closer and I can say on behalf of everybody that we were all eagerly awaiting the following Tuesday when we had our workshops in evening hours.

The wonderful people I have met are for me definitely the strongest impression of this program. Actually, a short time before the beginning of workshops, my family and  I moved to Jagodina and did not know anybody. Now, I can genuinely say that we have gained true friends.

"Each parent needs to know that a perfect parent doesn't exist and that we do not need to strive to perfection".“Each parent needs to know that a perfect parent doesn’t exist and that we do not need to strive to perfection”.

However, somebody will say that “It is all nice and peachy but did it give any concrete results? “. Oh yes, it did!

One of the homework we were given was to set a parenting goal related to each topic of the workshop. This was the way to make us concentrate and organize one per one segment of our parenthood life. My husband and I managed to recognize the moments when a certain child is in need of extra attention and how to help them feel not neglected (and this can prove as a true challenge in a household with four children). We restored the regular evening routine, we learned how to keep calm in crisis situations and ways to resolve the conflict with children in an amicable way. Also, we learned how to find some personal time for ourselves as well as for us as a couple.

We also realized that we are not such bad parents ourselves, but rather that we sometimes miss creative problem-solving tools that can replace disciplinary measures that do not do us nor the children any good.

And what matters the most,  we got the support.  Primarily, through our facilitator Marko, who  was patient and full of  understanding  to  us all and he was always there to encourage us and direct us. Not only at the workshops, but any time of the day or night. His words would appear as a light bulb in our heads when we face a challenging situation. The group calls this “Marko the light bulb” and this is one of the most powerful impressions  we experienced together.

Why did my husband and I get interested in the program anyway? We believe that it is always necessary to improve yourself. Not for the outside factors, but in order to feel better and be happy with yourself. By investing in ourselves, we also invest in our children. And no, our children will not have perfect parents, but parents who are pleased with themselves and who try to be the best version of themselves. And what is more perfect than this?