Correcting Our Faults in Children


What happens when you recognize your own failings in your children? Say you were a super picky eater as a child. What do you do when you encounter that quality in your child? Are you more sympathetic because you’ve struggled with it or do you tend to react more harshly?

A good friend recently mentioned this idea to me, and I find it so interesting. She says that one of her biggest faults is clumsiness. No matter the reason, she’s struggled with being clumsy her whole life. I wouldn’t think of clumsiness as a major fault, because it’s not one of those things that you can necessarily control. But it is definitely something she struggles with. The reason she mentioned it is that she realized that she tends to correct her kids more harshly when they act clumsy.

I can imagine why this might be the case. She has recognized it as an unbecoming fault and doesn’t want to pass it along to her children. Or maybe because she’s recognized it as a weakness in herself, there’s no doubt in her mind that clumsiness is a weakness that everyone should avoid, her children included. But she laughed at it because it’s kind of ridiculous and almost hypocritical for her to judge her kids for a quality that she hasn’t yet been able to conquer.

This also had me thinking about my family. When you look at our genetic makeup, William is 98% my husband. He looks and acts like him so much it’s creepy. You would never know the child is my offspring. But I think this is a problem in our house. I find that my husband is overly critical of William, and it just occurred to me recently that it could be because he identifies with William’s failings so much. Aside from a few SPD tendencies, I hardly identify with William at all. When I look at him, I don’t see myself. So in a way, it enables me to parent him objectively (if that’s at all possible).

I will say that if I see any faults in my children, I do tend to look at myself first. I’ve been struggling lately with William’s perfectionism. It tends to hinder our homeschooling, and it’s so pronounced that he recently said he “wanted to be perfect for the rest of his life.” Uh oh. When he said that, he may as well have been pointing a mirror right back at me. I’m a HUGE perfectionist. I like everything to be just so, and if I can’t make it perfect, I don’t try. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the horribly sized picture on my Facebook page, but it eats at me. I don’t have the software to fix it, so I’m stuck and do my best to push it out of my mind — which is more difficult than it should be. (Hey, if anybody has Photoshop and can help me, I’d so appreciate it!) And my kids don’t have baby books, it’s that bad. I’ve always wanted baby books for my kids, but I’ve tried. And I’ve tried. I just can’t make them perfect, and because it’s so important, it has to be perfect. It’s messed up, right?

I have to say, though, that I don’t overly criticize William for his perfectionism, partly because I haven’t really owned up to it being a fault (which I seriously need to do). But I will definitely say that there are certain qualities in Lucas that I criticize more than my husband does. Lucas is much more like me (not quite 98% but close). He likes his comfort foods, he likes being cautious, he likes it when life is predictable and pleasant. But sometimes, even though I’m exactly the same way sometimes, it drives me nuts! I’m much less forgiving of his faults than anyone else in my family. I don’t give in to his picky eating. I make him stop whining the minute it starts. I encourage him to try new things, and so on.

It’s really interesting because you’d think I’d be more forgiving of these faults because I can identify with them. I was a picky eater as a child. I whined all the time as a child. I was super cautious as a child. I get it. I’ve been there. But I suppose I’m more critical because I’m aware that these qualities are faults and that they will be something he’ll have to overcome later in life. That, or find a spouse who will cater to these qualities. Thanks, honey! ;)

I suppose the point of this post is that we should ask ourselves whether we are being fair to the children who possess those qualities that we deem to be faults of our own. Are we being hypocritical to be overly stern when we see these faults in our kids? Or are we simply trying to save them the heartache that we have gone through by having to manage these faults in ourselves?


  1. Great post! I hadn’t really thought about this topic, but it makes so much sense. My son, although he looks just like my husband, has all of my personality traits. I am definitely more critical of his behavior than I am of my daughter’s behavior. She looks like me and has my hubby’s personality…he’s definitely more critical of her. Very eye opening!

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