Parent teacher conferences historically have revealed something deep in my heart…I ignore progress (my family and my own) because of my irrational desire for perfection. I mentioned yesterday that prior to this year’s conferences I would be crushed by any negative comments about my kids. My sensitivity was so high that even a neutral comment would disturb me.
Where does this come from? I think part of it is my personality. I am a lazy perfectionist. I think it also comes from my inability to live in the tension of two opinions I have of myself: I believe I am a bad father and I believe I am a good father. Both are true. I am bad because I am flawed and inexperienced. I am good because I would take a bullet for any of these kids in a heartbeat. Parent teacher conferences have shown me that I spent my early years as a parent swinging like a pendulum from one extreme view of myself to another. I am learning as a parent to live in the tension of two contradictory truths about myself. As a father I am bad and good.
This year our kid’s teachers gave positive comments and shared areas they/we need to work on. This year my wife and I were able to take it in stride because raising a family as a couple, starting a church and a non-profit that are both growing brings with it tremendous stress and discouragement. My wife and I have felt like the last 10 years revealed how messed up we are as people. But this is because we spent 10 years measuring our success with perfection as our core metric, our measuring stick.
Our faith has taught us that life is not about perfection. We should be measuring our success by our progress not flawlessness. This year when we heard the evaluation of our children, we were encouraged, not because the reports were all high praise. We were encouraged because they have progressed in their academic and social skills.
My wife and I feel more free. When progress is the core metric of our self-evaluation we realize that we are a work in progress and a work that has progressed. As a father I am committed to teach my kids about faith, character, hard work, etc. The two things I really want to instill in them are….
1. Life is about progress not perfection
2. Pursue excellence without arrogance