Years ago, I was struggling as a new mom – learning to cultivate the rituals, traditions, and values that would create my own family culture. I didn’t have much practice sorting out what mattered to me and my little family. It was hard to see what was just other people’s expectations, not something that would feed our souls. I would run myself ragged, trying to please everyone, and our connections would suffer because of my stress.
I came across this phrase, and it became a mantra as I navigated this new family territory. That phrase is connection, not perfection.
Connection, Not Perfection Meaning:
When I say ‘connection, not perfection,’ I mean: Forget trying to be perfect. Connection is what matters more. So, when it feels awkward or uncertain, make the choice that seems most likely to support connection. As I learned to make choices about how we’d spend our time, what I could let go of, and what I needed to forgive myself for, I would say to myself, connection, not perfection.
Looking inward, noticing your child and your family and making choices that help you be the person you want to be, the person your child needs you to be.
Looking outward and trying to become something you believe other people want.
Connection Not Perfection
I use this phrase to remind myself that connection is my top priority in my most overwhelming moments. I use it to remind me to keep the relationship I have with my family at the center of my life, instead of listening too closely to the ‘shoulds’ that seem to come from all angles.
When we choose connection over perfection, we look for people, information, and experiences that will nurture our relationships rather than wear holes in them.
You don’t have to be perfect!
You’ll make mistakes.
You won’t know the answers.
You’ll lose your cool.
But if you make the quality of your relationship the priority, you will not steer too far off track. It comes back to connection; it comes back to you. Your kids don’t want perfection; they want you.
Living Connection Not Perfection- What does it mean?
It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you “should” be doing to connect with the people you love. Your kids, your partner, your parents, or friends – our relationships naturally are extremely important to us, and with our powerful desire to connect, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right.
Loving someone can turn into a stressful checklist of things to do, but it doesn’t have to.
Here are some ways to think about living with connection over perfection as your goal.
Put relationships first- trust that by building strong, connected relationships, you will be able to raise resilient, emotionally healthy kids who are capable and will be able to make their own healthy, loving relationships as they grow.
- When you’re angry, lean on the side of connection.
- Stop comparing with others and realize I can be ME, and you can be YOU. You don’t have to be good at the same things as other moms or dads.
- Practice listening, even when it isn’t exactly convenient.
- MOST Importantly: Try to listen more to your Good Mama, not your Should Mama – learn to trust yourself and let go of the guilt.
On holidays (when perfectionism often comes calling), try to make intentional choices about what you choose to include and what you let go of.
- You can find simple birthday celebration ideas that delight but don’t overwhelm
- You can practice taking pictures but staying present during the special moments.
- You can look for the little moments to celebrate that might not be huge to the outside world but matter a lot in your heart.
Look for ways to be present, and notice that connection can be very simple (100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child, for instance, has ideas that will make you smile as you realize you are doing a lovely job on so many of these things already.)
- Find short and sweet ways to connect, and realize that they DO count, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
Connection, not perfection, simply means we look inward at the family we have and make choices that will nurture that family rather than trying to please everyone else. Leaning on the side of connection means we can give ourselves a little grace as we figure this out, knowing that parenting won’t always look pretty. We can keep the big picture in mind:
Your children (and all those who love you dearly) want you – imperfect, silly ol’ you. They want connection, not perfection.
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.