Thursday, October 11, 2012

How I Planned to be as a Parent

challenging children
I started out the way every other parents-to-be does. I was certain that I had some important beliefs on parenting my kids that I would never budge on. No gun games. No TV. No yelling. Letting my kids be very unique and quirky. No spanking. Teaching critical thinking. Allowing and encouraging divergent thinking. Organic only. Teaching the kids to do chores early. Reasonable and attached parenting...

Along comes my first child. A daughter. Her personality was so unexpected. Her individuality is so strong. Her desire to "follow" is stronger than mine. Her mouth is...mouthy.
It wasn't long before I found myself spanking her! Yes, I did. I spanked her! Just a time or two, until I realized that I was doing that totally for myself. LOL (PLEASE, no criticizing me!) I couldn't believe the stuff coming out of her mouth and I spanked her. We still talk about this! It was such an awful day, though, that the spanking was just the icing on the lovely cake of the day.
OH YES, and there was some yelling too...,

Along comes my little son who makes a "gun" out of a piece of toast while sitting in his high chair! I'll never forget him holding that triangular piece of toast towards me saying "Cue Cue!"

Along comes every single unexpected event that had me turning on the TV, feeding my kids Happy Meals, yelling to be heard, telling instead of teaching, and fighting myself to avoid saying "Do you have to wear that outfit out of the house?"!

My husband, though, had far more realistic ideas of parenting our two since he already had two children from his first marriage. 
Yes, Jerry has always been my balance. He watches, listens, and then offers a little nudge to remove me from the edge. He respects my desire for high ideals, and supports me as I find myself unable to live up to them.
So, from him I have learned to be GOOD ENOUGH.

While in graduate school I was taking a Neo-Freudian course on psychoanalysis. The class was rife with many interesting ideas about being a parent. The one thing I carry with me from that course is the concept of the Good Enough Parent. No one can be perfect and all of us make weird, odd, even painful mistakes. The Good Enough Parent still makes the mistakes, is still inadequate to some tasks, and probably asks their child to change clothes before leaving the house every now and again. But the Good Enough Parent loves and learns, errs and adapts, is genuine and dependable, and just does their best with what they have. The Good Enough Parent offers their child a "holding environment" that allows their child to try new things safely, to experiment with ways of being, and generally adapts parenting to the needs of their child.

I remember that concept well because it felt so forgiving, so empowering, and so attainable!
And not much Freud is!  LOL

So, I have become the Good Enough Parent. I like it that, at times, I honestly don't know what to do in a given situation. That, of course, is because the kids are moving forward and changing. Thus, I must move forward and adapt to their new "selves". And I don't have to meet unrealistic expectations of my own in my head. It's funny how wonderful it feels to let go of that "perfect" expectation, goal, desire.

Look, some days, I am EXCELLENT! Other days...not so much. I find I am a happier, more humble parent when I acknowledge that, while I am not perfect, I am in fact Good Enough.


If you like this post perhaps you will also enjoy:
That's My Girl
You Live and You Learn


  1. I learned about the "good enough parent" concept relatively early in my parenting journey, and I didn't like it at all. I was so hung up on being perfect that I completely screwed everything up and ended up far away from being either perfect or good enough (depending upon who you asked, I guess!!) Luckily I think that I did end up finding opportunities to strike a balance and finally I embrace this good enough concept. It's funny how we begin our journey so sure of ourselves, only to be humbled and mystified by what our children bring to the equation. It's really beautiful when you can step back and see the big picture (but so tricky when you are in the midst of it!) Love the post!

    1. Laura, you are such a LOVELY person. I am very proud to be your friend.

  2. I pride myself in not doing the things as a parent that I feel fueled my personal psychoses. That way if my kids end up warped, it at least their issues will differ from mine.


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