Perfect Ignorance

November 2, 2014 | admin

I have yet to meet the child who thought they could not improve on their parent’s efforts.

Of course that was before their kids became teenagers.

Parenting is difficult because parents have what I call “Perfect Ignorance.”

As opposed to perfect knowledge, which is attaining real certainty, parenting doesn’t afford such luxury.

This is not to say that we should throw up our hands and be completely arbitrary in our choices. No, we are required to figure out what might be the best option, it’s just that we never know for certain. In fact, every parent also knows that most parenting mistakes were made with excellent intentions.

As such, perfect ignorance is appreciating that you never really know what will work.

This plays out every single day in the mind of a parent. On any given issue, big or small there is an equal amount of evidence going either way.

When it comes to buying a car you can make an informed decision. When it comes to invading a small country you can make an informed decision. But when it comes to signing your son up for violin or jiu jitsu it’s a toss of the coin which one will make him great.

I can tell you personally, that things that worked great with one of my kids, was a disaster with another.

But if you think I am going to tell you where the magic coin is to flip, I am sorry to disappoint.

However, what I can tell you is what disaster looks like.

That’s when a parent mistakenly “shuts down.” As more than one parent has told me, I don’t want to read anymore because it makes the decision too hard.

Put another way, parenting is not about making choices, it’s more about learning from the bad choices. Children get frustrated not because their parents did them wrong, but because they didn’t listen when it went wrong.

As opposed to nearly every other part of our lives, in parenting, admitting your ignorance is just perfect.

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