The lollipop land of shiny faces and perfect families is a dangerous facade

perfect-family

We have created a fake world presenting only the best side of our families and friends and rarely sharing pain or struggle.

We created it in social media, in-person, and at social events.

I’m not proposing we go all newspaperish by being negative and presenting only bad news. But it’s time to strike a balance.

We are a society obsessed with accomplishments

We are quick to pass judgment on those whose children are not currently succeeding by our standards. And our current fast-paced society breeds anxiety, depression, and dysfunction.

We are a sharing society. Only we choose to share only that which is the prettiest.

Everyone wants to share that bragging moment. Everyone wants to look good. But by hiding struggle, we create a facade that has made those who are struggling feel isolated and alone. And everyone feels like that at some point.

To our friends who are suffering as well as our young people, this presents an inaccurate picture. Those who are hurting see this and get the message that no one wants to hear them because what they have to say is too “unpleasant”.

So if you are grieving the loss of a relative or friend, talk about it. If someone in your family is suffering addiction or mental illness or dies by suicide, talk about it.

So many families brush all this under a rug and never speak of it which sends a message of shame and that person is effectively “erased.”

And the side effects?

Increase in suicide and overdoses which are at epidemic levels.

As adults, we have learned there is a lot that goes on behind closed doors. Our kids don’t know or see that yet.

While we can’t slow down society, we can make time if we really want to and present a more accurate picture by sharing struggles as well as accomplishments. With our kids and with others. We do learn from each other if we talk and find comfort in it as well.

We can refuse to carry on the tradition of holding our kids hostage to standards that are simply too high. Most of them are only for the sake of our own pride and self-worth anyway.

People will always want to feel proud of their kids. That’s natural. We’ve just gotten out of hand and wildly competitive about it with the advent of turbocharged PTAs, travel teams and social media.

When we create this fake facade, even those who are part of the family feel they can’t live up to the fantasy that is created. They start to feel shame and that leads to problems.

Let your kids know it’s OK to talk about unpleasant subjects

We should invite them to do that no matter how uncomfortable it is for us. We’re just too busy. But we need to be open and listen even in situations where we are not sure what to do. Avoid avoidance.

We all want to fix things when sometimes all we need to do is shut up and listen without judgment.

We can encourage our kids to do their own problem solving by asking questions instead of trying to do things for them because it’s faster. Everyone is in fear of failure yet that’s where we learn the most. Failure with small price tags is a wonderful teaching tool.

Families everywhere are lumpy, with dysfunctional pieces and parts

That’s normal.

Perfection is not.

Let’s start by not perpetuating impossible standards that appear to be the norm. By having conversations, not lectures. Because guess what?  They do want to talk as long as you will listen without judgment.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

3 thoughts on “The lollipop land of shiny faces and perfect families is a dangerous facade”

  1. My second child was born with Down syndrome. The silence and nervous quiet pity by those whose greatest worry was perfect Christmas cards was front and center. It was so hard and hurt so much and then I let him be first and not the diagnosis but never denied the DS. I never looked back and when he was diagnosed with Autism at 4 and was then the “elephant” in the DS community by not being the amazing kid more like “normal” than different with DS? We embraced it because it is part of him. His sisters and me along with other family members have depression and anxiety issues – part of our DNA and at times it is serious. It is part of us but not to be hidden or define us. The collective we should be no more ashamed or without support than if it were a physical condition that is being battled. Many of us are standing and saying we matter. Our loved ones and their needs and having support and not shame must be addressed. Thank you Anne Moss for being a voice for those too overwhelmed with challenges of mental illness a child is facing or too worried their family is not the perfect facade too many pretend and project. More and more of us stand with you and in honor of your boy. Love from Chapel Hill – Ann

  2. BRAVO! True and well written! Facebook is the worst. We are all so happy, why aren’t you? Please…. Have you seen anyone walking around with halo’s over their head?
    It’s a huge fear. A fear of being judged.
    I will stand beside you Anne Moss! I am FAR from perfect, and so is my family. I often lose sleep over my children and how they will navigate their future. I’m sure there are MANY others.
    I encourage everyone to hop on the train that Anne is working so hard to achieve. There is nothing wrong with being humble, human and someone other people can relate to rather than admire.

    Xoxo,
    Stephanie Taylor

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