When I returned to graduate school I learned about a concept that felt radical to me at the time. The idea is when relating to one’s child, one does not need to be prefect, but rather “good enough.” Of course, it sounds intuitively correct, but I think for many of us we seek and aspire to be perfect parents for our children. Unfortunately, it sets up parents to fail and children to not be able to face times when their needs are not completely met perfectly and learning how to manage these times internally and externally.
Recently, there was an interesting article in the New York Times that spotlights how parents are managing this time of being shut in with their children as they try to balance their children, work, and rest of life. What I love about this article is it is composed of snippets from families all across America discussing how well — actually not so well — it is all going. It is honest, real, and definitely brought to mind the idea of “good enough parenting” when parent after parent relates that they are failing their kids, barely getting by, mediocre at best, etc.
What I read had me thinking to myself, “Relax! You are all good enough parents doing a good enough job with your children during this pandemic.” I loved reading how many have moved to simply doing what they can and enjoying activities that make their days and their time with their children flow, but I definitely picked up an undercurrent that this was sort of a “giving up” rather than something to be embraced and overjoyed. The guilt of parenting perfection seems to be a residue on the stories.
Good enough is best. It’s realistic and it helps your children not only see you as one with good and bad sides, but also one who is resilient in the face of major challenges. My guess is the children will not recall all the details of these long months, but they may recall the closeness, the creativity, the freedom, the way it was all crazy and yet good — it was good enough.