Psychologist Explains The Odd Benefit Of Having Emotionally Messy Parents

Six skills kids learn from parents who don't strive for perfection.

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Parenting is a journey filled with highs, lows, and countless uncertainties. In a world that often pressures parents to strive for perfection, Trauma Therapist Yolanda Renteria challenges this notion and encourages embracing the messy aspects of parenting.

In a recent interview on the podcast "Open Relationships:Transforming Together", Renteria blows the idea of the "perfect parent" right out of the water — not just that it's not healthy for the parent to strive for perfection, but also that it's not good for your parent-child relationship. 


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Your kids need to see us fail, here's why:

In a society that tends to romanticize the idea of flawless parenthood and doing everything "right", from the perfect food and the best schools to the gentlest discipline, Renteria emphasizes the importance of acknowledging imperfections.


Renteria told host Andrea Miller:

"One of the best things that you can do as a parent is accept that you are messing up - and I will tell you why. When your kids are adults if you try to be the perfect parent, your kids won't be able to come up to you to tell you how you messed up because they are too afraid of hurting your're going to be defensive and you're not going to accept that because you have tried your best."

She continues, "So this is when you get parents saying 'I did everything don't you remember all the nights that I didn't sleep so I could do this for you and that for you' so one of the things I practice is telling my kid how I'm messing up. Like, I am noticing right now that I did this - I'm sorry. And it's not like constant apology, but the awareness that I am human, that I am making mistakes, but that I'm trying because I care."

Parents, she argues, should recognize that making mistakes is an inherent part of the parenting process. Rather than striving for an unattainable standard, Renteria suggests that embracing imperfection allows for authenticity and genuine connections with our children.


When we say "emotionally messy" parents, we are not talking about neglect or abuse or parents whose emotional instability puts undue burden on their children. Rather, we mean parents with complex emotions and who make mistakes and are able to admit it. 

6 Reasons Emotionally Messy Parents Are The Best

1. They are authentic and vulnerable (in a good way!)

Emotionally messy parents are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities. Messy parents keep it real. They're not afraid to show when they're feeling low or struggling.

This honesty creates a safe space where kids can be themselves without worrying about being judged. When parents are genuine, it helps kids feel comfortable opening up about their own feelings.

2. They model resilience 

By witnessing their parents navigate challenges and setbacks, children learn the valuable lesson of resilience. Emotionally messy parents provide real-life examples of overcoming difficulties and bouncing back from adversity.


They teach kids to bounce back when things go wrong. By facing challenges openly, parents show that it's okay to stumble and get back up. This helps kids learn the value of not giving up, which is a lesson they'll carry into adulthood.



3. They teach their kids emotional intelligence skills 

Parents handling their emotional messiness teach kids how to deal with their feelings. Watching mom and dad navigate their emotions helps children understand and manage their own. This skill set is crucial for their overall happiness and how they relate to others.

They teach them to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions in a healthy way.


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4. They build connection through problem-solving 

Messy parents create tight-knit families. Sharing both good and bad times builds strong emotional bonds. These shared experiences form a sense of togetherness and show kids that love doesn't depend on being perfect.

It's the messy moments that make family connections even stronger.

5. They encourage truly open communication 

Emotionally messy parents create an environment where open communication is valued. By sharing their own thoughts and feelings, parents create an environment where kids feel free to express themselves.


This open communication helps families understand each other better, making it easier to navigate through life's ups and downs.

6. They teach their kids empathy  

Through their own struggles, emotionally messy parents develop a heightened sense of empathy. This, in turn, teaches children the importance of understanding and supporting others.

Navigating the journey of parenthood is no easy feat. Renteria reminds us that it's okay not to have all the answers. Parenting is a continuous learning process, and no one truly knows what they're doing.

Despite the uncertainties, the effort and love that parents invest in their children are what truly matter.


Parenting is an unpredictable journey, and being emotionally messy is not only acceptable but can also be beneficial. Renteria encourages parents to be proud of their imperfections, as it is through these imperfections that genuine connections are forged.

So, embrace the messiness, celebrate the highs and lows, and remember that, in the end, being emotionally messy is a beautiful part of the parenting experience.

Your children will thank you for it.

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Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.