What is the truth about the perfect family that you need to know? Are you ready for the truth?
Can I have a drumroll, please?
The Perfect Family Does Not Exist.
The Perfect Family does not exist. No one is perfect, including you and especially me.
There is no perfect family because none of us are perfect.
(By the way, there are no perfect relationships or organizations either.)
Some of you assume you’re the only one whose family has been devastated by divorce, spousal inﬁdelity, sexual assault, mental illnesses, substance abuse, and addictions.
Everyone needs to view social media with caution and know that there is no such thing as a perfect family. You may not know a family’s struggles, flaws, or personal issues, but they exist in every family.Lifehack
Some of you were raised to believe that other families were perfect, and your family was inherently flawed. But that is not true. We are all a little bit dysfunctional.
Here are a few of my favorite examples of dysfunctional families in the Bible.
- Cain killed his brother Abel.
- Sarah convinced her husband Abraham to sleep with her handmaiden.
- Lot’s daughters got him drunk and slept with him.
- Jacob was married to two sisters who gave him children in a competition for his aﬀection. One of those children, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his older brothers.
- Judah slept with his daughter in law who was posing as a prostitute.
Admit it, don’t you feel slightly better about your family after reading about these families in the Bible?
Please note that their dysfunctions did not deﬁne them. They ultimately found their identity in their relationship with God, and so can we.
The Perfect Family – my story.
I know what it was like to live up to a standard of perfection in a family. As a kid, we would get dressed and go to church every Sunday. We looked great. My mom and sister wore Sunday dresses, my dad and I wore our best suit.
We learned to be still in church, memorize scripture verses, and follow the rules without exception. My dad was the pastor and demanded perfection in all things. This unrealistic expectation damaged our early relationship.
As I approached my teen years, my dad made every effort to repair our relationship.
In many ways, he succeeded; however, the unrealistic standards were already ingrained in me.
After my father died, I learned that my Dad had considered not going into the ministry because of his family’s reputation in the community.
You may be intimately aware of your family’s dysfunctions and more than a little bit ashamed of some of them.
Once I was married, I was determined to be a perfect husband and father. I demanded perfection from myself and others.
I regret the impossible standards I put on my wife, our children, and myself.
Looking back, I can see the damage caused by my pursuit of the perfect family.
I have repeatedly sought out forgiveness from my wife and adult children for demanding perfection.
The Pursuit of the Perfect Family can be harmful.
What is the harm in pursuing perfection in a family? Shouldn’t excellence be pursued?
It all depends on who is defining excellence.
Excellence celebrates the effort and attitude, as well as achievement.
Perfection only recognizes whether the standard was met or not. Perfection can turn a success into a failure.
What is the harm of expecting perfection from family members, especially children? Anxiety, chronic stress, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, and insomnia are a few of the physical byproducts. Often, these ailments follow a child into adulthood.
When perfection is the standard, disappointment is a constant companion.
How should we respond to the myth of a perfect family?
If we are still raising small children, we can extend grace freely. I look back at moments that I was overly strict with regret. But I cannot remember a single moment of grace that I felt was wasted.
We can recognize that we are raising human beings, not human doings. Our children’s identity is not based on their performance but on our shared biology or blended family dynamics.
We can recognize that we are raising human beings, not human doings
If our children are grown, we can begin to make amends in the hopes of undoing and preventing further damage.
If you don’t have children, there are still lessons to be learned in our relationships and organizations. How much better could our relationships and work environments become if we stopped demanding perfection from others?
Perhaps good enough really is appropriate sometimes. If that last statement threatens to push you over the edge, remember I never claimed to be perfect.
Call To Action
Repeat after me, “There is no such thing as a perfect family, relationship, or organization.” Now go and act as if you believe it.
I’ll be right here next week, trying to be a little less demanding of perfection from others and myself as well.