The Odds of the Perfect Bracket in Parenting


Recently, Warren Buffett made an unfathomable offer.  As CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, he and his company offered a $1,000,000,000 reward to the person who could create the perfect bracket for this year’s March Madness basketball tournament.  The likelihood of successfully guessing the winners of each of the 63 games is astronomically low: approximately a 1 in 4,294,967,296 chance to be exact.  But for such a grand prize of a billion dollars, we still hold onto that hope of winning.

In the same way, against all odds, many parents still pursue that perfect family bracket…a bracket they believe consists of 1) perfect children who will “win” at everything—they’ll be the best in school, in sports, in arts, in grades and 2) a perfect spouse who will never argue with you, but will be everything you need them to be. When things don’t turn out as expected, extreme disappointment often follows.

To avoid being disappointed and discouraged by an imperfect family bracket, here are 3 things to keep in mind:

Expect their best, not perfection.

As parents, we don’t need to lower our expectations.  Rather, we simply need to change them.  Instead of expecting perfection from our family members, expect them to do their best. It makes for a much more enjoyable life together.  Each person has different gifts, which means that each person’s best will look different.  Through the years, I’ve always told my kids to do the best with what God has given them, not to compare their gifts with someone else’s.  As parents, you can help by cheering on your daughter in the ways she succeeds in her soccer game, instead of criticizing the one way she messes up.  Rather than pressure your son into making straight A’s his entire high school career, support and encourage him to do his very best.  Sometimes we expect perfection from our spouses, too. My blog post, Confession: I Expect Too Much from My Wife, may help you evaluate if you do too.

Be ready to adjust your strategy.

Life is full of curveballs.  These curveballs come in all sorts of forms: your 2-year-old having delayed motor skills, your daughter getting married to a man you’re unsure about, your 12 year old son being diagnosed with ADHD, or even giving birth to a child with special needs.  Just as players in a game are forced to play with factors beyond their control, we too must be ready to adjust our strategy for the curveballs in life.  To help your kids learn how to prepare themselves for other curveballs of life, you may want to review 5 Ways to Prepare Your Tweens and Teens for the Unexpected.

Enjoy the season.

A lot of parents label different seasons of life.  We’ve all heard about the “Terrible Twos” and the “Teen Years,” and how these are times we have to get through as quickly as possible.  But rather than trying to rush through these seasons, I encourage you to enjoy today and enjoy every season of life in which you find yourself.  Don’t worry so much about the perfect bracket that you miss out on the family you’ve been given.  No season will be perfect, but every season will be worth it.

Fortunately, Warren Buffet’s story isn’t over just yet. Not only is he offering a billion dollar prize to the person who guesses the perfect bracket, but he is also offering $100,000 to 20 imperfect brackets who get closest to being accurate.      


In parenting, not having the perfect bracket doesn’t mean we have to miss big wins in life.  The imperfect family bracket often turns out to be exactly the bracket we need and comes with unexpected rewards. So what things are you thankful for in regards to your imperfect family bracket?  Share your thoughts in a comment below. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.