Perfect children

March 20, 2016 (Kampala):

My ‘troubled relationship’ is with my daughters. Perhaps I have idolized them as the ‘perfect children’, in the sense that I try to control them to make sure they’re perfect. It manifests in two ways. First, I want them to be perfect (by my narrow definitions), and when they are not, it angers or embarrasses me. The problem is that I have not learned how to free them to be imperfect while at the same time guiding them lovingly and patiently toward perfection (by whatever standard). Then the second thing is that I feel responsible – or implicated – in their grasping and constant need for attention and entertainment. Whenever they are vying for either, I feel an aggravating internal tension. I have not learned how to free them to be bored and needy, nor how to free myself to meet their needs out of the generosity of love rather than control and compulsion. It’s a lack of freedom on both counts: I try to control them to be and behave as I want them to be and behave, and I let their cavernous relational needs control me. I hate both unfreedoms. I’m praying this morning for freedom. I don’t want to keep being this way, living this way. It’s a self-inflicted misery. I hope to bind the balance between control and release, between guidance and standing back, between helping them use time constructively and use their own creativity in their play.

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