By Kristen Manieri

The Imperfect Family

I really dislike the word perfect. I think when we surround ourselves with uninvestigated ideals and unattainable bars, we create a life that constantly feels like it doesn’t measure up. But measure up to what? And who’s the one holding up the yard stick?

Nowhere have I seen the toxicity of perfectionism more pervasive than in the modern family; mine included.

We all know moms or families who seem like they have everything together while we’re barely getting through the day. Comparisons lack value, they’re not instructive because they fall short. And here’s what I mean: imagine I look at another parent who seems to totally have it all together in every way, plus has a completely calm vibe all the time, and seems to glide through life.

Nicole Schwartz

I might say, maybe even incredulously, “I don’t know how she does it.”

But why not ask… “I wonder how she does it.” Maybe I’ll ask her about some of the ways she seems to stay so organized and serene. Who knows… maybe she might have a really helpful answer. And guess what? I guarantee there are areas of her life that don’t feel all that together.

So, rather than compare ourselves to each other and try to measure up to an uninvestigated ideal, how about we all agree that we’re imperfect, but we’re doing our best and we’re learning all the time so we can get better all the time.

This is exactly the ethos that today’s guest subscribes to. Nicole Schwarz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the owner of Imperfect Families, a website dedicated to helping parents use respectful parenting strategies (without expecting perfection). She provides online parent coaching to families worldwide and practices positive parenting with her 3 girls at home.

What’s ahead is a conversation about what it means to embrace the idea of imperfectionism, as a human being, as a parent, and as a family.

This conversation reminded me to take a big breath and stop striving so much. It’s a big relief when we reframe this experience to one of learning and growing rather than perfecting and attaining. I hope you felt that relief, too. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts from this week’s conversation:


  1. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and give yourself the space and the grace to make mistakes. We’re not always going to get it right but we’re always going to learn.
  2. Parenting is a mountain with no peak. Just when we hit our stride, new challenges and obstacles will always arise. And that’s good. It shows that we’re stretching and that we’re growing.
  3. When something goes sideways with your kids, ask yourself: how might I have contributed to this moment? We are always co-creating life with our kids, we’re always participating in whatever happens or doesn’t happen. Having the humility and clarity to think about your part in whatever got created is a huge step in taking your power back. Because if I can own that I helped to create it, then I can help to change it.
  4. Together doesn’t necessarily mean connected. As Nicole says, we can all be at home together but if we’re spread across several rooms, all focused on our own activity or device, we’re not really together. Nicole advises that we learn how to connect with each person in our family, requiring us to be detectives to uncover what each person needs, what each person’s connection style may be.
  5. Shoot for quality over quantity, and to get the most bang for your buck each time you have a moment of connection. Even mini connections of just a few minutes are huge if they are met with laser focus and full presence.
  6. Kids aren’t always going to come right out and ask for connection, especially when they get older. Often a bid for connection might look like whining, upset or bad behavior. When your child is being a pain in the butt, stop and ask, “could all they really need right now is for me to stop what I am doing and fulling meeting them in this moment?”
  7. Learning about the brain and understanding how it works when we are in different emotional states are major advantages for a high functioning family. When we can see how the brain’s reasoning capabilities short wire, in our kids but also in ourselves, we can learn how to be in the moment. We can learn that touch and closeness can go so much further than reason or reprimand when the brain is in a shutdown mode.
  8. Family is a process, an always evolving entity that is meant to be a work in progress. When we stop comparing or trying to be perfect and simply tune into what works and what feels good, we get better answers.

A big thanks to Nicole Schwartz for being this week’s guest. You can find out more about her coaching and also access her articles and resources at imperfectfamilies.com.

Until next time,

Keep on living the Synced Life.

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