As stated by Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy," which may be hard to stomach when those doubts about our parenting start creeping into the background of our day to day activities. Maybe you've noticed that other kids at play group pronounce their words better, or speak in complete sentences. Maybe you've heard that other kids have toilet trained faster or have started staying dry at night before your kid. Maybe you're afraid to go out in public with your kid because your child might have an outright fit right there on the grocery store floor. Although this isn't an exhaustive list by any means, you are not alone in your self- doubts. If any of the above situations resonates with you, take peace in knowing that there is a category of parents called "Good Enough" parents.
Although it may sound contradictory to how society has raised us to believe, with our busy schedules and extracurricular activities, being a "Good Enough" parent is actually the ideal parent! The term originated from D. W. Winnicott, an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Through his experience with mothers and young children he noticed that children of parents who were their authentic selves, mistakes and all, actually benefitted because it created a safe space for creativity. The "Good Enough" parent is ideal for children because it is neither on the side of demanding an unattainable perfection nor on the side of being negligent of the child's immediate needs. In contrast to John Locke's tabula rasa theory, children are not born as blank slates, rather, as I'm sure many of you can confirm, our children already come brimming with personality and liveliness. On that note, it is not our jobs to mold our little ones into the person they will someday become, rather to take an encouraging role.
As beautifully stated by research professor Brené Brown in her book Daring Greatly, "When it comes to parenting, the practice of framing mothers and fathers as good or bad is both rampant and corrosive- it turns parenting into a shame minefield. The real questions for parents should be: "Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?" If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn't exist, and I've found that what makes children happy doesn't always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults."
Whatever your life circumstances may be, remember that we are human and the human experience is messy; it is full of trying trajectories at times, but also successes and truly wonderful moments. As we progress through our own parenting journey, let us remember that one of the most important things we can give our children is our engagement in their lives and our attention. So, if some days you're not quite sure if you're a good enough parent to your children, remember that by encouraging and being attentive you are enough.
To learn more about being a Good Enough Parent, visit https://www.mother.ly/parenting/want-good-enough-parent