The Healthy Family Connections Podcast:
How To Be A Perfectly Imperfect Family
Episode 021 · Duration: 00:09:55
How To Be A Perfectly Imperfect Family
Do you sometimes feel that your family is all screwed up and you’ll never get things right? I recently came across the parenting book, How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families. It got me thinking where I’ve been hit a lot lately in the areas of personal and professional vulnerability, and how important that is in every area of our lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of vulnerability. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it before, but you know how you know something, but you only let it in so far? I started thinking more personally and professionally about vulnerability at the Networker Symposium in Washington DC last month when I heard Brené Brown talk about her research leading her to understand that successful, confident, courageous people were more vulnerable than others. In other words, they were more aware of and comfortable with their shortcomings and their vulnerability, and were more comfortable with other’s vulnerability as well. They were less defended. Her talk was powerful and made the audience of 4,500 psychotherapists all a bit more aware of and yet more comfortable with their own vulnerable feelings.Successful, confident, courageous people are more vulnerable than others. Click To Tweet
Later at the Symposium I spent time with Susan Johnson and her work and research with couples. Susan’s work once again brings me to understand the importance and power of couples bonding in their most vulnerable places.
And now I’ve come across this terrific little parenting book, How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families, by Dale and Monica Vernon—that leads me once again to the power of vulnerability. They are not therapists or researchers, simply parents struggling to become a better family (so it’s not your typical parenting instruction book). Instead, it’s an adventure story and we take Dale and Monica’s journey with them on their very personal quest to find out how to best support and raise their 3 kids. Dale is not shy exposing his worst moments and how off base he was with so much of his parenting. His willingness to be vulnerable with all of us makes this a fun and intriguing story that we can see ourselves and our families in. It’s his willingness to expose his imperfect self that makes his story, our story too. This is a perfectly imperfect family with special needs kids and parents who, at least initially, are pretty ill equipped to communicate effectively with each other and are really struggling and making lots of mistakes in their efforts to raise their challenged and challenging kids.
Dale looks for answers using business models from his work world, and Monica helps him understand their kid’s emotional needs. They both learn and grow through the dynamic tension of their opposite ways of thinking.
I like that Dale brings his business model because I think many Dads can relate to that. I strongly believe that the structure that it brings is sorely needed in families today. Also, I like his willingness to see when he’s missing the boat with his kids’ and with his wife’s emotional needs.
Dale and Monica’s story really comes together towards the end of the book when Dale discovers the work of Dr. Carol Dweck (one of my absolutely favorite people). Dr. Dweck is a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University in the area of individual success. She wrote the best selling book Mindset, and you can watch her TED talk, The Power of Believing That You Can Improve, which has been viewed over 5.5 million times. Very simply, she discovered that the essential difference between successful students and less successful students is their mindset. Successful students have a “growth mindset” and believe they can succeed with effort and so apply themselves. Less successful students have a “fixed mindset” that limits their belief in what they are capable of, which in turn limits their effort and their result. Dale and Monica incorporate Dr. Dweck’s principles for raising kids with growth mindsets in their family and it makes a huge difference.The difference between successful students & less successful students is their mindset. Click To Tweet
How does this relate to vulnerability? Individuals with a growth mindset are comfortable with failure. They don’t see themselves as having all the answers and they’re comfortable being imperfect and this allows them to be comfortable with failure and willing to learn from failure. They’re comfortable with their vulnerability. And learning from failure is a critical feature of success. Individuals with a fixed mindset, experience failure as too emotionally painful, and they avoid those vulnerable feelings and situations that will expose their imperfections. In other words, they give up before they start.Learning from failure is a critical feature of success. Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, we learn some great principles for healthy family functioning, but more importantly, what we learn from Dale and Monica’s journey, is to keep learning and growing and to employ a “growth mindset” to our parenting. They did, and as a result, built a much healthier yet of course still imperfect family, just like all of ours. If we accept that mindset, that none of us are perfect or need to be, and that parents and kids alike are growing and learning, an imperfectly great family can be ours too. So, if you want a different kind of parenting book, one that’s more inspirational and fun to read, while still being informative, get yourself a copy of How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families, by Dale and Monica Vernon.
In the meantime, your imperfect therapist and parenting expert here wants to thank Dale and Monica Vernon for being so vulnerable and sharing their story, exposing all their weaknesses, and letting us be more comfortable with our own weaknesses and our struggles as well.
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