I attended my first parent-teacher conference this week for my preschool daughter. I had wrapped up my final exams just two days before. While my own grades were still unknown, my husband and I learned about my toddler’s progress and “grades”. We got a snapshot of where she was as far as cognitive skills, emotional development, gross motor/fine motor, and social skills. My daughter’s ratings were “P”, “B”, or “D” for her various skills.
I asked the teacher, “What do the letters mean?”
She replied “P is for proficient. B is for building”.
I then inquired, “Is D for deficient?”
She said with a laugh, “No, D is for developing.”
In a prior Facebook and Instagram post, I shared how a professor described my “deficiency” after a clinical simulation and provided solely negative feedback to me. I was unexpectedly triggered by my own insecurities at my daughter’s preschool review, thinking “D” meant “deficient” for areas where she could use more work. Instead, the areas where she could improve are ones in which she is still “developing”. What if I gave myself the grace and focused on how I am still developing? What if I transformed “deficient” to “developing?” Stating, “I’m developing a skill” elicits a very different response and attitude from, “I’m deficient in a skill.”
What if I transformed ‘deficient’ to ‘developing’? Stating, “I’m developing a skill,” elicits a very different response and attitude from, “I’m deficient in a skill.”The Mature Student Nurse
I got emotional during the conference and started to cry. I cried at the recognition of myself in my daughter. I cried about projecting myself on her progress and development. In a moment, I felt my issues had me resigned to suck at parenting. The traits and behaviors I notice in myself that I try to “fix” or change show up strongly in my daughter: stubbornness, perfectionism, and inflexibility.
- She may give up on doing something if she notices she is not doing it perfectly.
- She was doing a cutting exercise with scissors but just gave up and decided not to do it because she saw she wasn’t exactly following the cutting line.
- I have multiple calligraphy sets that I don’t use because I get discouraged with how my writing ends up looking – even though I know the whole point is to practice.
- She can be very driven and direct herself, but so much so where she does not welcome working in teams.
- She loves working on puzzles by herself, but she gets upset when her classmates try to join her.
- I sometimes find it challenging working on group projects. I dread them at times.
- She can fixate on things and become emotionally derailed if things do not go as she planned.
- She melts down over clothing.
- I go into panic mode over a bad test grade.
- She gets an all-or-nothing attitude.
- She was supposed to draw a picture of herself. She started, but was unhappy with how it turned out. She erased the image and tried to re-draw the picture, but never finished.
- Because I want to do things perfectly, I can take a long time doing things or worse, I won’t do it at all.
I realize my daughter will naturally take on her parents’ traits – good AND bad, whether we purposefully do this or not. How can I expect her to act differently when I do not know how to do this for myself? How can I give her tools I do not have? To an extent, I realize my stubbornness and perfectionism has served me well and allowed me to get into a very competitive nursing program. However, I also recognize where it has not served me.
I’ve heard the saying, “the enemy of great is good enough,” but I know my issue can be summarized as “perfection is the enemy of good enough.” I can get overwhelmed or paralyzed from not being able to do things perfectly or exactly the way I think I should. Comically, I now recognize that my perfectionism is what had me put so much pressure on myself as a parent that I was driven to tears at my daughter’s parent-teacher conference.
I would not want to label my daughter as “deficient,” so why am I so quick to label myself this way? My daughter is DEVELOPING. So am I.
The acknowledgement that I am still developing is a gift and empowering. I can work with that. If I want my daughter to know that it is okay to make mistakes and pursue projects imperfectly, I need to demonstrate that. Before I can change my behavior, I need to notice it. I see how my behavior impacts my life (and my daughter’s). I can do something about it now that I recognize it. I am figuring it out as I go along. I feel lost at times and may not make the best choices, but I’m trying – I am still developing.