JUGGLING KIDS, SCHEDULES, meals, chores and career: Do you ever wonder if this is “having it all?” Ever feel overwhelmed and that everything is not as perfect as you planned?
Perhaps it’s time to revisit the phrase the “good enough mother,” coined in 1953 by Dr. Donald Winicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. He recognized that children actually benefit when their mother (or primary caretaker) fails them in manageable, safe ways.
It is impossible to sustain the level of attentiveness we give to newborns and infants. As children grow they need to learn how to function in an imperfect world by developing resiliency. They need to learn that they will not always get their way, that there will be ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations. And that despite all this, they will be ok. This happens when they experience small doses of failure, such as when they don’t get undivided attention, are forced to eat a meal not of their choosing or to share when they don’t want to. Perhaps it’s getting home a little later than promised or not buying the expensive gadget just because everyone else has one.
By being a “good enough mother,” you teach children that they are not the center of the world and that they can feel bad and bounce back, becoming stronger and better prepared to face life’s challenges.
As parents, we all want the best for our kids – so let 2019 be the year to eliminate the idea of perfection and the inevitable guilt that comes when we can’t achieve it. Instead, resolve to be a “good enough mother” and enjoy watching your kids grow into strong, resilient adults. You will be surprised at how healthy, happy and refreshed you will feel.
As the seasonal stress mounts with much to do and seemingly never enough time, hold strong. Breathe, relax and find comfort knowing that “no” may be your best answer. Best wishes to all for safe, healthy and happy holidays and a new year of embracing being “good enough.”