Why being a “good enough” parent will make you AND your family “happier”.
Expectations. Guilt. Overwhelm. Information overload. Confusion. Disconnection.
These are the words I often hear from the parents I work with. Modern parenting is NUTS! The expectation that is currently placed on the modern parent, from the outside world, is causing burnout and stress within many family systems. As a modern parent surrounded by all of the information and direction around what they SHOULD be doing for their children, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to enjoy their role, and their families. From multiple after-school activities, weekend sports, birthday parties, a clean and tidy home, nutritious meals, routines, family time, personal time, couple time…..the list of expectations goes on and on. And all too often I am opposite the parent who feels a FAILURE because they can’t achieve what they expect of themselves. They feel GUILTY because the stress that they are experiencing is spilling out into their relationships with their partners and their children. I know myself the number of times I have been short with, or lost my mind at my family – over a situation that was minor or even amusing (in the right frame of mind). I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and disconnected – and it is awful. It's soul crushing.
All of this is the result of parents developing internal standards that they think they should be reaching, because the world guilts them into it. And the thing is, these expectations cannot possibly be met.
It is time therefore for the modern parent to stop trying to be the "best parent" through achieving the standards that they think are theirs. Instead, it is more helpful if the modern parent opts for what I like to term “good enough” parenting. When parents are “good enough”, they are less stressed, their children are less stressed and enjoy a calmer parent, partners can connect and overall the family benefits.
So how do we drop these artificial standards often created by the media, advertisers, other people’s Facebook lives and more? – we drop back into our values. Values are those things that let us know who we want to be in the world. What we want to stand for. Values are unique to each individual and are flexible guidelines about how we, as a human, want to be remembered or thought about. They are not rigid rules or morals to dictate our life, they are more like a compass which lets us know what direction we want to be moving towards.
When I think of the values that guide my parenting I think of being loving, compassionate, understanding, present, gentle and kind. None of these things requires me to ferry my child to multiple afternoon activities, provide them an Over The Top birthday experience. Acting from my values allows me to be the parent I want to be. A good enough parent. A parent who is proud of who they are and what they are achieving with their children and family. There is no room for guilt when we are acting from our values, it is only when we stray from these that we experience that emotion.
So where to from here for you my dear parent in arms? Firstly, step back and have a look at what is driving your choices in your parenting decisions. Is it the outside world, is it lessons that you learnt from friends, family etc throughout your life, or is it what is in your heart as to who you want to be as a parent?
The next step is to consider what it is that is in your HEART, and from there you can start to make decisions around how you are going to act on those things. Let’s be conscious and aware in our parenting, let’s be good enough parents because in the end as the Beatles said “all you need is love”, and that holds true for your children and family. So if your striving to reach your unattainable parenting goals is getting in the way of that, I would challenge whether your goals are really in-line with who you want to be in your role as a parent.
Yours in parenting – Emma.