The Myth of Motherhood: Being Good Enough
I attended a training about a year ago on child and adolescent brain development with Tina Payne Bryson who co-authored the amazing book “The Whole Brain Child.” She shared a stat about parenting that stuck with me. She said research shows that if we are getting it right about 50% of the time we are rocking it as parents. I quickly wrote that down in my training manual and couldn’t wait to share it with my clients. I have searched for that statistic and research so I can quote it here but because I have since lost my training manual with the information I am coming up short. So, don’t quote me, but know you don’t have to get it right 100% of the time to be a good parent.
Most of us are shooting for 110% and still feel like we are failing or coming up short. It’s not possible to be 100% all the time or even half the time. Children don’t need us to be 100%. They need us to be good enough most of the time and really great some of the time. When we hit 100% or higher that’s like ‘man walking on the moon’ or the ‘creation of the internet’ kind of good. That kind of good doesn’t happen every day. But, good enough happens many times throughout the day, almost every day.
What is being good enough?
Being good enough is making eye contact with your child, listening to them as they talk about Elmo or Minecraft (even if you’re bored out of your mind), hearing them and validating them and making them feel safe and important. Every day!
Being good enough is NOT Disneyland, new bikes, a cookie every time they ask, new toys at every Target run or letting them stay up late on a school night. Sure, these things are awesome but they do not make a ‘good enough parent.’ A parent who gives their child these awesome things but doesn’t give them the eye contact, the listening ear, the time to connect and make them feel important every day is not a ‘good enough parent’.
As parents, we gauge our ‘goodness’ by how happy our child is or how well behaved they are. This is not a good reference point. Being a good parent means tolerating our tantruming or angry child when we set limits without losing control of ourselves and lashing out at them because they didn’t get what they wanted. Do you get what you want every day? I sure don’t, but for the most part, I can control myself. Children are learning to control themselves and we are their primary teachers. What are they learning if we lash out when they need us to comfort them or just tolerate their upset?
You child needs you to be good enough most of the time. What does this look like in your family and in your home? (feel free to comment below)
You are good enough! Your listening ears, your focused eyes, your gentle tone of voice, your loving touch and your consistent comfort is enough! You are enough! Your child wants you and your positive attention more than anything else in this world. You have the power to give them exactly what they want and need every day.
You don’t have to hit 100% to be a rockstar parent. So, in those moments when they back talk in front of the neighbor or use that snotty tone, or throw themselves on the floor crying, or worse, when they yell ‘you’re mean, I don’t love you’, remember ‘good enough’ is good enough in those moments.
If your’re struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety or having a hard time managing your anger, please reach out for help. You and your child deserve it!