The “Good Enough” mother is the one…
…who doesn’t need to be perfect, who doesn’t judge others for not being perfect and who teaches her child the beauty of not being perfect and of being different among people. And therefore she takes a lot of (perfectionism) stress off her child’s shoulder.
…who accepts the love that her child feels for her, but who also equally accepts all the other feelings that may come from the child, even anger or rejection.
…who admits that she has feelings of unconditional love for her child, but also acknowledges that there will be moments in everyday life when she will be experiencing more negative and overwhelming feelings. She is well aware that these uncomfortable, conflicting feelings cannot erase or even diminish her loving side.
…who will be next to her child in the morning, even if the previous day he rejected/ ignored/ threatened her, because she didn’t fullfil all his wishes and desires.
…who accepts all the negative feelings that come from both sides (hers and her child’s) and realises every time they come to surface that they do not necessarily destroy the relationship she has with her child.
…who doesn’t compare herself with other mothers, and therefore doesn’t teach her child this non-stop, obsessive, self-defeating habit of comparison.
…who is not afraid to cry, to say “Sorry”, “Thank you”, “Please”, and “I love you” in front of her child.
…who will sometimes be thinking about her job, her partner, her friends, or herself more than her child. And she knows that it’s OK.
…who knows when to let her child try (instead of trying for him), because she will be offering him a double gift: the opportunity to learn and the satisfaction when he succeeds!
…who is not led and “fed” by the overachieving ambitions and the social/stereotypical obsessions of her environment which say that she needs to be “awesome”, “successful”, “supportive”, “kind”, “generous”, “protective” and “wise” all the time.
…who doesn’t hide real life from her child (but also doesn’t treat him like an adult), and equips him with some valuable skills to deal with challenges later in life.
…who, when she fails, tries again.
…who lets her emotions out, and explains these emotions to her child and thus gives him the best lesson on emotional intelligence: it’s not a bad thing if you feel and show it; but it’s a bad thing if you don’t know how to feel, what to feel and why you feel it.
…who knows how to choose her battles and when to let them go.
…who is more accepting and less judging of herself, her child and her significant others.
…who doesn’t want to control her child, but, on the contrary, wants to give him wings to fly, because his well-being is her first and last purpose.
…who sees the relationship with her child as a garden, that needs planting, watering, growing for it to flourish.
…who sees time as her ally, not her enemy. Therefore she waits for the right moment for some quality time and honest communication with her child, time when she doesn’t feel the urge to push things by preaching or scolding him and by trying to impose her decisions.
…who asks for help when necessary, because she thinks that “I want to help my relationship with my child without making the same mistakes again” is better than: “I know my child better than everyone else and I don’t accept advice from anyone”.
…who hasn’t idealized motherhood, but accepts that as a significant stage in her life -with its challenges, its mistakes, its amazing moments. She is willing to do the best she can, as she has done in everything else in her life so far.
…who actually is an ordinary mom who loves her child, who treats him in an ordinary -and not a hysterical- way and who is learning day by day from this relationship.
It only takes a not-perfect mother to raise a happy child.
(Winnicot’s theory about the Good Enough Mother was published in the 50’s, but it seems now more contemporary now than ever. )
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