Themes of Estranged Parents' Forums
"We're Not Perfect, and Neither Are They"
This is one of the biggies, one of the eternal, unending, unchanging cries of the estranged parent: "Our children expect perfection from us, but we're not perfect, and neither are they!"
We were not perfect (neither are the EC).
Of course, I was not perfect, neither were they.
We're not perfect of course. We're human. No one is perfect, not even these adult children that judge us.
You seem to think I have failed you by not being your idea of what a perfect mother should be. But no human can ever be perfect - we are all imperfect in our own unique way.
This idea that we are all beating ourselves up because we were not absolutely PERFECT parents and therefore for some reason our adult children have turned their backs is absurd. Are these adults perfect parents? Nope. I would guess many are less perfect than we were.
The idea comes up over and over and over again, in wording so similar you'd think they were reading from a script. It's the rare estranged parent who gets through an entire recounting of her backstory without some version of, "I wasn't a perfect mother, but..."
The underlying logic is:
- The changes you want me to make in how I treat you are unreasonable. You're demanding perfection.
- You have no right to demand perfection of me unless you yourself are perfect.
- Therefore, unless you yourself are perfect, you cannot ask me to make any changes.
It's the perfect (ahem) way to bring any discussion to a standstill. The child's concerns are dismissed, the parent is relieved of any need to change, the child is reminded that he or she is at least as imperfect as the parent, and the parent scores a subtle moral victory. No wonder estranged parents roll around in this theme like it's catnip.
Quotes from Estranged Parents
This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of psychological issues. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
The analyses on this page are my own opinions and should not be construed as medical advice or statements of absolute fact.