Parenting | Good Enough is Good EnoughMar 17, 2022
By Dr Naomi Parsons, Children and Educational Psychologist
You might have heard it before (if you’re anything like me then you definitely need to hear it again!)
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. In fact, the more we try to be one the further we’re probably getting from what we hope for.
We only need to be ‘good enough’.
Children need connection, not perfection. This has been said many times, by many people. It’s even the tag line for Mary O’Kane’s book Perfectly Imperfect Parenting, which is on my wishlist but I haven’t had chance to read it yet (because parenting is, you know, *just a little bit* time-consuming isn’t it?!)
Children thrive on connection: it’s what our brains are wired for. It’s how we learn, grow and heal.
How we connect looks different for everyone, but in essence it’s that feeling of being mutually ‘tuned in’ to each other.
And we only have to be ‘tuned in’ with our kids a third of the time to create an environment where they feel safe and secure, which gives them the chance to develop to their full potential.
Another third of the time we can be disconnected, mis-aligned and out-of-sync with our kids, and they’ll still probably turn out ok.
As a parent, I find this hugely comforting. It means I’m able to let myself off the hook when I don't get it right (which happens A LOT!).
But as a psychologist, here’s what I find even more interesting: in between ‘getting it right’ and ‘getting it wrong’ there’s a ‘middle third’. This is where we recognise that we’re disconnected, we’re out of sync, that we got something wrong, and we take steps towards putting it right.
We reconnect with our kids, we apologise, we change what we’re doing, we repair the gap between us.
And this is where I think the magic happens.
It takes courage and vulnerability, and it opens up the possibility of deeper connection and greater learning.
We demonstrate valuable skills to our kids, like emotional regulation, creativity, problem-solving, social skills, relationship repair, flexibility and many more. In fact, all the skills we would probably hope for our children to demonstrate when they’re adults.
I’ve kept this brief because there’s so much available on this topic, so if it interests you a quick google search for ‘good enough parenting’ will bring up lots more reading for you.
If you like things short and sweet then just remember that perfect parents don’t exist, you’re doing a great job, and connection and repair are the most important things for our kids to see us demonstrating.
And in case you need any extra reassurance that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, I’m writing this as my daughter is watching cartoons and I’m eating chocolate spread straight from the jar.
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