I was just reading about imposter syndrome. Don’t ask why. I am highly confident, and I have never doubted myself, my abilities, or my potential—not at work, not in social interactions, not in my role as dad.
(Now excuse me while I hide and have a private panic attack about my inadequacies.)
As a read an article by the American Psychological Association, one line jumped out and smacked me in the face:
“In particular, parents who send mixed messages—alternating between over-praise and criticism—can increase the risk of future fraudulent feelings.”
Oh my. Sorry kids, but I may be setting you up to feel like a future fraud.
I try to give restrained praise to all the inventions, school work, art projects, and other crazy ideas my kids share. I want to engage in the things they care about, and help them build confidence in their abilities. And I genuinely admire most of the stuff they do.
But do I overdo it? Am I setting them up to expect their friends and coworkers to smile and pat their backs at everything they do and say?
I also try to nudge them to push harder, and look for ways to improve next time. If they knock over a dinner glass, I might tell them to pay more attention. If they didn’t study for a test and then miss a few answers, I might remind them it’s their responsibility to make sure they’re ready.
Am I teaching them that they’re never good enough? Am I planting seeds of inadequacy?
Hopefully I’m just being paranoid. And I’m crossing my fingers that kids are pretty resilient.
But maybe I’m raising imposters. Maybe I’m instilling a fresh set of paranoias in their heads.
If so, kids: I’m sorry if I’m screwing you up, but please know we’re trying our best.
And confession: even though I’ve been a dad for over 10 years, I still don’t really know what I’m doing.
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