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The Good Enough Parent is Good Enough
Donald W. Winnicott (1896-1971) was an instrumental therapist that formulated and developed the idea of the "good-enough" parent.
We can beat ourselves up all we want about not being the "perfect" parent. What it really boils down to is whether or not we are being fundamentally "good enough".
Some basic ideas that Mr. Winnicott professed about this kind of parent include:
They provides what the child needs without giving into immediate gratification. They create a space between the action and the consequence so that the child has time to become self sufficient. The time is short at first and gradually increased.
They remain fundamentally warm, keeping a loving attitude that never retaliates and nor takes revenge on the child. They handle negative reactions in a constructive, healing fashion.
They lives with the reality that their children will not always be happy, and that they will inevitably face hurt and difficult times in their lives and they provide a space for the child to experience natural consequences.
They see themselves as having the responsibility of providing a family structure that includes consistency and follow-through. There is a natural family hierarchy that includes rites of passage.
They give love and support while their children grow through the stages of childhood and adolescence into successful and responsible adults. The act of being a loving and guiding parent never ceases but changes in time with maturation.
They provide opportunities for their children to learn life skills through natural opportunities.
They take care of their own personal needs so that they are free and clear to parent.
They do not over schedule their children so that the children have a natural amount of time to self-reflect.
They assist their children toward independence.
The idea around this theory of parenting is that the parent mentors the child towards independence gradually within the loving confines of a secure and stable parent / child relationship.
The parent is "good enough" and therefore does not busy itself with the thoughts of perfectionism.
Parenting can be an overwhelming task. The risks can appear to outweigh the rewards from moment to moment. The act of parenting is more about sustaining balance in the family so that each member has the freedom to evolve developmentally. Beyond this, mentoring towards independence and self-sufficiency is largely valued among theorists. As an added bonus, the ideal scenario would have the family unit in such a stable thriving place that they were able to give back to the community at large.
Thinking tall is an asset. But building the ladder firm is even more vital to the plan.
Beckett Franklin-Gray, MA
Masters Level Counselor
Austin Mindfulness Center
© Copyright 2013 by Beckett Franklin-Gray, therapist in Austin, Texas. All rights reserved.