You want more than anything to be a great parent, be available and to not have “shortcomings”. The good news is that kids just need you to be a “GOOD ENOUGH PARENT”. You don’t have to be perfect for your child to be happy and healthy.
You can make mistakes and have bad days. Just keep trying. Success might require many tries and even the best strategies might have to be revised. Give yourself the grace to learn to do better. Don’t give up. Some days we may not have as much energy to put in the work as others.
Changing the way you PARENT is not unlike changing any other behavior. We all go on diets trying to lose weight, or make changes to just eat better, or exercise more. It’s like any relationship, you have to put in the work to make things better.
Anything we try to change requires time and patience; child rearing is no different. A great deal of energy and patience is required. We have to learn to tolerate the “tough days” of parenting (as there will be many) and learn to LEAN INTO and CELEBRATE the days that are easier.
Often, when we experience challenges we forget to honor the GOOD STUFF. We forget to acknowledge it in our children when we see it.
Making a plan, setting goals and staying the course for a while is always good. Don’t be afraid to revise things if you see it’s not working. You’ll want to fully understand your child’s uniqueness, the positives and negatives of their style.
Ask yourself, what qualities do I want to see in my child as they grow. Fast forward in your mind and think about what qualities you value and would want to see in your child as they grow. In what areas would you like them to be competent?
Perfectionism as a parent is not possible. Our kids need us to fail sometimes.
Children can actually benefit from us not being perfect. This term was coined by a British Pediatrician & psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott. He felt this level of attentiveness could not be sustained. He felt that a parent should be imperfect and fail their children in manageable ways so a child can learn that they grow up in an imperfect world. He was not implying that these imperfections have to do with abuse or neglect.
Winnicott was mostly referring to the mother (the predominant primary caregiver in 1953). The term grew into GOOD ENOUGH PARENT.
However, today’s parents see this phrase and think they should and need to be better. GOOD ENOUGH is just not okay.
When our children are infants we need to attend to their needs. They are learning about the world and how their needs are being met by their primary caregivers. We have great attentiveness to them at the infancy stage. It teaches a child a sense of feeling safe and cared for.
Winnicott’s meaning of imperfect parenting was to not be available constantly, or respond immediately to your child. A parent should not always give in to all their child’s wishes or desires – asking them to share with their siblings or friends when they don’t want to, or have them do things that aren’t negotiable like going to school every day and to be on time.
Children need to learn in small ways every day that the world doesn’t revolve around them, that their every request will not be honored and how they behave impacts other people.
They need to learn through these experiences that life is hard, they will feel let down and disappointed and that they won’t always get their way. But, they will be fine.
If our children’s every need is met all the time, they won’t build resilience and have the ability to manage challenges. They won’t learn that it’s ok to feel upset, angry, bored, sad or disappointed. They won’t learn that life can be hard, frustrating and difficult.
If we build our children’s resilience, that is the best gift we can give to our children as the “good enough” parent.
Perfection is not an option. It simply cannot be done. No parent can meet every single one of their child’s needs.
If we were to be the perfect parents and try to satisfy our child’s every need then we would be raising very fragile people who can’t accept even the slightest amount of disappointment.
If we aren’t good enough all the time then we will inevitably letting our children down in a myriad of ways. But, a good majority of the time most of us will be getting it right at times and other times we will be getting it wrong. Our children will be sad or frustrated that they’re let down. They may feel terrible, but they bounce back.
Each time we let our children down, tell them that you’ll trust that they will get through it and that it will make them stronger.
It’s time to embrace being the “Good Enough Parent”!