Written by Doctor G

The Answer to Reducing Stress in Your Life – an intro and guest post

Most people live with stress. As parents we often feel that we get more than our fair share. I tell my patients who are complaining about stress:  There are two options – change the stressor or change your reaction to it. If your child’s walk to school is the stressor, either she needs a different way of getting to school (probably not) or you need to revise your reaction to her walk. If your work or your health or anything else is the stressor and you are really determined to reduce stress, you either have to change the situation or change how you react.

Last week I had the chance to go to a talk at my sons’ school and hear about a new book that could help a lot of parents reduce their stress. These two moms ask Moms to look at the stress we place on ourselves. And they suggest both changing the stressor AND changing our reactions. When they asked me to spread the word about their new book, I was happy to do so. I hope you’ll check it out.

Why Perfectionist Parenting is Anything But Perfect By Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple
Authors, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood
One day last summer, Hollee pulled out of an Ohio campground, excited to be on her way to Chicago.
She’d been enjoying a family reunion at Lake Hope State Park, but she was ready for a bug-free wireless connection and some quality urban time with Becky. The ride took longer than the 1 hour and 27 minutes promised by, but Hollee had given herself plenty of time. She parked in the extended lot and shuttled her way to the gate.

That’s when she punched in her confirmation code and got this message: “Sorry, but you can’t check in until 24 hours before your flight.” She knew she was early, but she thought it was more like two hours. Turns out that she’d driven to the airport on the wrong day.

When she returned to camp — having soothed her embarrassment with a stop at Starbucks — her 8-year-old son greeted her with a bear hug.
“Can you believe I made such a big mistake?” Hollee asked him.

That was her redemption moment. The chance to show Gideon that it’s OK to screw up.

When we aim for perfection as parents, we do our children — and ourselves — a disservice. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for us. And, yet, ours is a generation that often treats motherhood like a competitive sport — aiming to be perfect moms who create perfect children.
The quest for perfection is our generation’s single greatest obstacle to juggling work and family — and, often, it keeps us from achieving the dreams that mean the most to us. That’s one of the biggest findings from the nationwide survey of working moms we conducted for Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, April 2011).

In fact, the respondents who took a “good enough” approach at work and home were more likely to be satisfied with their choices, less likely to feel they’d sacrificed too much, and less likely to describe their marriages as a “disaster” or “not very good.” And — this is the best part — they’d given up surprisingly little professional ground to achieve this state of contentment. These women hadn’t settled for second best — they’d simply stopped beating themselves up and scrambling to meet other people’s definitions of success.

We do not need to be perfect to be successful. And nor do our children.

Ellen Galinsky, the president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute and the author of Mind in the Making, makes a good point about this. When we model perfection, she told us, we teach our kids a heartbreaking and dangerous lesson: Mistakes are unacceptable.

Children who wither when confronted with challenges view their abilities as fixed — once they fall short, it’s very hard for them to rebound. On the other hand, kids who develop a “growth” mindset believe they can improve (in ability and intelligence) over time and with practice. They view new challenges as fun and exciting.

So when Gideon asked Hollee last summer whether the airport mix-up was her first mistake (insert laughter here), she reminded him of several others and told him how she’d overcome them.

She laughed about her three-hour detour through the woods and back and talked about the upside: The Temple family got to spend the rest of the evening together and Hollee brought back some Silly Bandz. And when she headed back to the airport the next day, she felt like he was a step closer to that growth mindset she’s trying to foster.

Which, as far as we’re concerned, is perfect.

Becky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, is available at http://amzn.to/newperfect . They blog about parenting and work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

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A widely recognized media personality, Dr. G is your go-to expert on resilience. Countless broadcast outlets rely on her contagious humor and illuminating stories to tackle tough topics. She is regularly seen on TV, as well as interviewed for print and digital outlets. Here, she’s answering your questions. Search for the answers you need, or ask her your question now!
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