Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Parents Are Not Perfick

My son Brandon (8) began taking karate instruction in November. He's really doing great, and I am impressed with his intensity and ability to learn so quickly. I'm most impressed with his ability to remain focused.

Brandon is a wonderful boy, does very well in school, and has a super golden heart. He's also what I would call "all-out BOY", and in most things outside of school-work it is difficult for him to "be still" long enough to completely take in the moment.

As I suspect most dads do, I want Brandon to be successful. I want him to be the best that he can be at whatever he does. Brandon and I have been working on his karate at home, and I see that it is really helping him. What's more important though is that Brandon can see that it's helping him. I know this because yesterday there was a transition in the nature of our home practice.

Previously, it has been difficult for Brandon to achieve the same level of focus and intensity at home as he displays in karate class. But not yesterday. I could see the concentration as he went through his patterns, and as he practiced his punches and kicks. I knew that the praises of his karate instructors during class had convinced him that our practices at home were effective. The one problem? He kept taking his eyes off of his "target" to look at me. He did this repeatedly, though I admonished him several times.

And all at once it hit me. My son just wanted to please his dad. He wanted me to be happy with his performance. I could see it in his face. I could feel it in his eyes. He knew that I was looking for perfection from him.

Oh oh. Perfection; I've blogged about that before. Did I fail at family again? Were my expectations of perfection from Brandon negatively affecting his desire to continue karate or possibly even damaging our relationship?

I try to remain conscious of how our relationship will continue to shape Brandon's understanding of the relationship he is called to have with God, his real Father; OUR real Father. In doing so though, I always learn more than I teach.

I pulled Brandon close to me, hugged him, and told him, "I know you're just trying to please me. I want you to know that I am very proud of you, and it pleases me just to know that you want to please me; and I always love you. Do the best you can, and let me help you to do better."

There's no problem with striving for perfection. In fact, God wants perfection from us as well (Matthew 5:48). I am far from a perfect dad, and that is never more evident than when I complete an examination of conscience. But after the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I hear Him reassure me:

"It pleases me just to know that you want to please me; and I always love you. Do the best you can, and let me help you to do better."

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