the good-enough parent

March 5, 2007

We have always aspired to “good-enough” parenting, never remotely tempted by the perfectionism and high achievement that characterises a lot of our peers. Thank you to Ms Melancholy over at the psychotherapist blog for articulating so nicely the reasons why we do this. I would create a trackback or a pingback at this point, except I have forgotten how this is done.

Today I left the boys (15 months each) at Occasional day care so I could clean the house and do some writing. There was screaming as I left, and as this is the first time I’ve done anything so awful there were 3 sets of tears. I came home and wrote a story about a woman who leaves her children alone, eating out of a cat feeder – that was about as low as I felt.

But reading Ms Melancholy does make me feel better. I’m lifting the Winnicott quote.

“The good-enough mother…starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant’s needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant’s growing ability to deal with her failure…

D.W.Winnicot (1951) Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena

And her post does explain, so very nicely why it is so natural for parents to be imperfect and how our imperfection actually provides a learning ground for the children and prepares them for the world to come.


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